Police are calling the theft of three expensive white tiger cubs from the Million Years Stone Park and Pattaya Crocodile Farm an “inside job” for black market wildlife traders outside Thailand.
Nongprue police Superintendent Col. Somnuk Changate said Dec. 20 that security cameras showed the thieves were extremely well prepared, knowing the park schedule and the cubs’ location.
Park owner Suan Phanomwattanakul said that due to their unique marking, the three cubs – valued at 1 million baht each – could not be sold in Thailand and agreed with police that the theft likely was made to fulfill an order from foreign wildlife smugglers.
Police questioned about 10 park staffers following the early-morning Dec. 19 burglary and reviewed closed-circuit television footage that showed three men cut the lock on the cubs’ cage around 1:15 a.m., then sedated the animals before carrying them away.
The two male and one female white tigers were born October 7 to Milky, 7, and mother Pinglanna, 5. They’d been taken out of their cages about eight hours before their theft to allow tourists to take photographs. When workers went to feed them the next morning around 7 a.m., they found the cage empty.
The Million Years Stone Park has had ongoing problems with security. Ten white tiger cubs were stolen from the park earlier this year.
Suan is offering 50,000 baht reward for each cub and has vowed not to press charges if they are returned safely. The animals needs specialized formula from the United States and fears they will die if they are not handled correctly.
The 3 stolen cubs have distinct markings.