Border Patrol Agents Found A Live Tiger Inside Abandoned Duffel Bag

 Tiger cub behind the tree. Photo: Tambako the Jaguar (Getty)

The cat’s out of the bag.

Border patrol agents have possibly the most random job duties. Case in point? This week, a crew near the US-Mexico border in Brownsville, Texas found a duffel bag with a live tiger (albeit, a cub) inside. The bag was discovered when agents saw three people attempting to enter the U.S. illegally. Once spotted, the men dropped the bag and ran back to Mexico.

When agents opened the duffel, they found an unconscious male baby tiger stuffed inside.

It’s obvious these men were trying to smuggle the exotic animal into the United States for cold, hard cash. But why?

According to the Washington Post exotic animal trafficking has become a huge issue:

The cub was an apparent node in the billion-dollar trade of animal smuggling, and it is in unfortunate company.

Last year, a tiger cub bought by a U.S. teenager was intercepted at a checkpoint in California.

In 2010, border agents recovered a caged and abandoned tiger in Laredo, another Texas border town.

And a decade ago, six tiger cubs were recovered from an attempted sale at a Walmart parking lot, also in Brownsville. They appeared to be southbound for Mexico, local media reported at the time …

… Nearly 55,000 animals were seized at ports of entry from 2005 to 2014, with an unknown number that arrived in the United States undetected …

Fortunately, there appears to be a happy ending in store for this baby tiger.

The two-month-old cub has been turned over to the Brownsville Gladys Porter Zoo. He appears in good health considering all the stress he’s been under. He’s even been given the unofficial name of “Niño.”

Yup. This little guy is expected to make a full recovery.

The zoo is in the process of trying to find a permanent sanctuary for the tiger. Lil’ Niño isn’t on display, but is instead being monitored by zoo veterinarians.

Josh Helmuth is a sports reporter who lives in St. Louis and contributes to Mandatory.