Tiger celebrates birthday at exotic animal sanctuary

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Lions, Tigers and Bears in Alpine celebrated Moka’s birthday on Saturday.

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ALPINE, Calif. — An exotic animal rescue sanctuary celebrated the birthday of a Bengal tiger Saturday, marking one year since the tiger’s arrival at the sanctuary after Customs and Border Protection officers rescued it from smugglers attempting to cross the U.S.-Mexico border.

Six weeks old when seized from a smuggler in August 2017, the tiger, now named Moka, was immediately handed over to U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service agents, who placed him into San Diego Zoo Safari Park care. Moka received emergency surgery to repair intestinal adhesions and was transferred to Lions, Tigers and Bears on June 3, 2018.

Estimated to be about 2 years old, Moka has gained roughly 200 pounds since arriving at the sanctuary, a spokesperson with Lions, Tigers and Bears said.

In celebration of Moka’s time at the sanctuary, keepers and volunteers filled boxes of “birthday gifts” with food and toys for him to open.

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