KUALA LUMPUR- A couple in Pekan were arrested recently for trying to sell a tiger cub for RM30,000 (S$12,561).
Pahang Wildlife and National Parks Department officers raided their premises in Simpang Chini-Tun Razak Highway on Oct 15 following a tip-off.
They found a 3-month-old male tiger cub in the couple's possession. The couple own a restaurant.
Tigers -- along with elephants, rhinoceros, orang utans and sun bears -- are protected species in Malaysia.
It is illegal to trade, breed, kill or keep these animals or any of their parts. Only those holding a special permit issued by the department under strict conditions can keep these animals.
The department released the couple on the same day they were arrested on a RM5,000 police bail. The authorities may charge them early next month.
The department confiscated the cub, nicknamed Mup, and sent it to Malacca Zoo.
Malacca Zoo director Ahmad Azhar Mohammed said it received the cub from Perhilitan on Oct 15 at 11.30pm.
"Mup was weak when it arrived at our zoo from Pahang . It weighed just above 2kg.
"We put it under intensive care and 24-hour observation.
"We gave it special milk and supplementary food every two to three hours."
The cub, which now weighs 3.5kg, is under observation at the zoo's veterinary clinic.
It drinks about 226g of milk every meal, eight times a day.
Ahmad Azhar said two veterinary staff take care of the cub, which can move about in a small confined jungle area near the clinic.
"It has shown tremendous improvement since Oct 15 and can walk by itself in the space provided.
"We release Mup into the small space every day to roam as it needs sunlight. We also want it to learn about its natural habitat from young."
He said the zoo would continue to give the cub milk and special food until it was strong enough to eat solid food.
"The zoo will take care of it until it can survive on its own. The authorities will then decide whether to keep it here or elsewhere."
The New Straits Times visited the clinic yesterday and saw the cub playing with its caretakers. It then roared as a signal that it wanted milk.
Mup drank the whole bottle of milk in just a few minutes before laying down lazily. It was taken into its cage at the clinic where it fell asleep minutes later.
There are fewer than 5,000 wild tigers in the world and only about 500 are left in Malaysia, a sharp decline from an estimated 3,000 in the 1950s.
The department is investigating where the cub was taken from and where it was headed for.
A few months ago, Customs officers at Bangkok's Suvarnabhumi Airport discovered a heavily-sedated cub in a check-in bag of a Thai woman. An X-ray revealed the animal's beating heart and other organs inside the woman's oversized luggage. She was on her way to Iran.