PHOENIX - A man who police say was in illegal possession of a tiger cub and tried to sell the animal has been arrested.
Phoenix Police say 25-year-old Carlos Eduardo Castro Alcaraz was arrested on Jan. 23. An investigation began after officers received a tip that Alcaraz was trying to sell a baby tiger on social medias for $25,000. Detectives reportedly posed as buyers, and negotiated a price of $20,000.
The tiger was recovered as officers served a search warrant at a home near 27th Avenue and Baseline Road.
"When they were doing that search warrant, you could hear the tiger in the background moaning. You could hear that something wasn’t right," said Sgt. Brian Bower with the Phoenix Police Department. "The tiger, specifically, was in a very small cage. Kind of a cage that you would find as a dog kennel. Approximately 2/3 feet."
Inside the home, officers also found several other animals, including baby snapping turtles and a baby American alligator in a small aquarium.
According to police, Alcaraz claimed he bought the tiger for $8,000 because the owner wasn't taking care of it. Alcaraz was released from custody, but no one answered the door at his home. Meanwhile, a trash bag outside showed a wild cat printed blanket. Alcaraz's next door neighbor said they only heard dogs and never a tiger.
Officials say they do not know where Alcaraz got the exotic animals, but they are trying to figure that out.
Experts shocked at what happened
Wildlife experts were in shock to find out what kind of conditions the exotic animals were kept in. They were also shocked the animals were found in a private home, in violation of state law.
"It's not something you hear about happening often here in Arizona. However, it is a problem," said Kristy Hayden, President of Wildlife World Zoo. "It's a problem worldwide, and it’s a problem that greatly affects the population of these tigers."
Hayden said the exotic animals are in properly accredited facilities for a reason: when they are in captivity. Most experts deal with adult tigers through protective barriers.
"That little cub is going to grow up to a 500lbs tiger, and tigers are apex predators," said Hayden. "That tiger can not only hurt you, but that tiger is a liability to everyone around them, and then the tiger ultimately can pay if something happens."
Arizona sanctuary offers to take in tiger cub
While officials with U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services have yet to say where the tiger is, or where the tiger will go next, the founder of Keepers of the Wild has already offered to take the cub in.
"It didn't look like it was much past six weeks or so," said Jonathan Kraft. "These animals need a lot of attention, special diets. They need formula or milk."
Kraft said he has already spoken with both Arizona Game and Fish and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services about his offer to take the cub in. Kraft said it is hard to know for sure where the cub came from.
"It could have been smuggled into the country from Mexico. It could have been from any backyard breeder," said Kraft.
A man who police say was in illegal possession of a tiger cub and tried to sell the animal has been arrested. (Phoenix Police Department)