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Rescued tiger cubs settle in to East San Diego County home

Posted at 6:34 PM, Jul 27, 2018
and last updated 2018-07-28 11:25:49-04

ALPINE, Calif. (KGTV) — Moka, the tiger cub rescued at the border in August of 2017, has officially moved into his new home at the Lions, Tigers & Bears sanctuary in Alpine.

A smuggler attempted to transport Moka into the U.S. after purchasing the six-week-old cub in Mexico. The smuggler was prosecuted and sentenced to prison time.

Moka was treated at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park and nursed back to health.

PHOTOS: Tiger cub smuggled through Otay Mesa border

Bobbi Brink, the founder and director of Lions, Tigers & Bears, says Moka can now can have a happy and healthy life at the sanctuary.

“Now he’s going to get to live out his life,” said Brink.  “Not in the wild, but at least he’ll get to live out his life with a little bit of dignity at a good sanctuary. A true sanctuary.”

Moka will able to spend the rest of his life at the sanctuary, right next to his new companion, Nola.

RELATED: San Diego Zoo's rescued tiger cubs now havenames

Nola is a white tiger rescued from New Orleans.  Details about her rescue are limited as her case is still pending.

The two have been getting to know each other at Lions, Tigers & Bears for about a month. Nola is playful and very active, while Moka is shyer and reserved.

Both cubs weigh about 140 to 150 pounds but they aren’t fully grown. They’ve been spayed and neutered and get along well.

Under federal law, all species of tigers are considered endangered, and you need a Fish and Wildlife permit to transport them.

The illegal exotic animal trade has become a multibillion-dollar industry worldwide.

“It’s getting worse and worse,” said David Shaw, Special Agent with Homeland Security Investigations. “I mean the exploitation of these animals is terrible. What they’re charging to sell these animals is terrible.”

The consequences of illegal animal smuggling are severe and may result in prison time.