Moka the smuggled tiger cub undergoes surgery

Earlier this month the Bengal tiger cub that was rescued from a smuggler last summer at the U.S./Mexico border underwent surgery to fix an intestinal obstruction and other medical issues.

The outlook for Moka was positive immediately following the surgery, which was deemed necessary after the male cub fell acutely ill, the San Diego Union-Tribune reported. Moka has been living at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park since shortly after he was rescued on August 23, 2017.

But Moka “is not out of the woods yet,” said Lauren Howard, an associate director of veterinary services at the Safari Park. “The cub will be in observation for another week or so to ensure his recovery goes smoothly,” Howard said.

Moka’s health issues included low kidney function, which veterinarians originally judged to be bearable, but more extensive complications were later discovered after Moka was found to be dehydrated and underweight for his age.

Safari Park officials said it appeared Moka’s condition was likely the result of a poor diet or other complications suffered during his first six weeks of life.

Luis Valencia was sentenced last month to six months in federal prison for smuggling the young tiger. Valencia’s attorney said his client wanted the tiger cub as a pet, but prosecutors said cell phone data shows that the defendant was running an animal smuggling business and boasted about making thousands of dollars by selling monkeys, jaguars and lions.

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