Thai Police Arrest U.A.E. Man with “Virtual Zoo” of Endangered Baby Animals in Suitcases
A man was arrested in Bangkok’s airport as he attempted to smuggle a “virtual zoo” of rare and endangered baby animals from Thailand to his home in the United Arab Emirates.
According to the BBC and Agence France-Presse, 36-year-old Noor Mahmoodr was busted by undercover police at Suvarnabhumi International Airport in Bangkok while waiting to check in for his first-class flight.
In his suitcases were two leopards, two panthers, an Asiatic black bear and two macaque monkeys.
The animals, all under the age of two months, were drugged and stuffed into cramped cages. “It looked like they had sedated the animals and had them in flat cages so they couldn’t move around much,” Steven Galster of the anti-trafficking Freeland Foundation, who was present at the arrest, told the BBC. “It was a very sophisticated smuggling operation. We’ve never seen one like this before. The guy had a virtual zoo in his suitcase.”
Roy Schlieben, also of Freeland Foundation, told Agence France-Presse that it is unlikely that all of the animals would have survived the trip from Thailand to Dubai.
“The fact they were transported alive would indicate the person at the other end wanted to keep them in their residence or some sort of zoo, or maybe even breed them,” he said.
It is believed that Mahmoodr, who Thai authorities monitored from the time he bought the animals on the black market, was not the only one involved in this smuggling attempt; an investigation is underway to find any accomplices.
If convicted, Mahmoodr could face up to four years behind bars and a $1,300 fine.
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