Bangkok international airport authorities have arrested a first-class passenger with a menagerie of exotic baby animals hidden in his suitcases.
The man's bags were filled with baby animals that had been drugged and were being trafficked to Dubai, the Associated Press reports.
Authorities found baby leopards, panthers, a bear and monkeys in the man’s suitcases. Noor Mahmoodr, 36, a citizen of the United Arab Emirates, was arrested as he checked in to fly first class to Dubai.
Wildlife protection group FREELAND says the man was caught early Friday by undercover officers at Bangkok's Suvarnabhumi International Airport as he waited to check in for his flight.
Authorities opened his suitcases and found two leopard cubs, two panther cubs, an Asiatic black bear cub and two macaque monkeys, all of which were alive and are being looked after by Thai veterinarians.
"The trafficker was stunned,"Steven Galster, director of the FREELAND Foundation, told news agency DPA. "It was a perfect undercover operation by the Thai Police Task Force."
Thailand is a major hub for illegal wildlife trafficking, but it is unusual for authorities to find so many live mammals, the AP says. Typical hauls are of rare tortoises, snakes and lizards.
DPA reports that Thai Nature Crime Police had been monitoring the suspect's movements, from his illegal purchase of the animals to when he stepped into the airport and was observed receiving suitcases from another suspect.
The FREELAND Foundation works closely with Thai Nature Crime Police in cracking down on the illegal trade in wildlife. Shipments of illegal ivory and other animal parts are also often regularly seized while being trafficked through Thailand.