NEAR ESCONDIDO (CBSLA) —A Bengal tiger cub who was rescued last year during a smuggling attempt at the U.S.-Mexico border in San Diego underwent emergency surgery this week.

1 Smuggled Bengal Tiger Cub Undergoes Emergency Surgery In San Diego

Moka in January 2018. (Ken Bohn/San Diego Zoo Safari Park)

Moka underwent surgery Tuesday at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park near Escondido for an intestinal adhesions from previous trauma prior to being brought to the park. The surgery was successful and he is recovering.

“Moka came through the procedure well and is currently under continued care and observation at the Paul Harter Veterinary Clinic at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park,” the zoo said in a statement.

Last August, U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents doing a routine inspection of a car at the Otay Mesa border crossing found Moka on the floor of the vehicle.

The smuggler, identified as 18-year-old Luis Eudoro Valencia of Perris, plead guilty in federal court to conspiracy to illegally import tigers and was sentenced in February to six months in prison, the San Diego Union-Tribune reports.

tigercub Smuggled Bengal Tiger Cub Undergoes Emergency Surgery In San Diego

Moka immediately following his rescue in August 2017. (San Diego Zoo Safari Park)

Valencia, a U.S. citizen, is believed to have run a wildlife smuggling operation across the border.

He initially told the court that he had purchased the tiger for $300 from someone he met in the Mexican border city of Tijuana who was walking a full-sized tiger on a leash.

Moka, now about seven months old, has been at the safari park since August. He remains under the jurisdiction of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, who took custody of him immediately after he was found.


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