Police in the eastern city of Wenzhou have detained a suspect in connection with the killing of a Siberian tiger.
The 31-year-old suspect, from Jiangxi province, was caught when two police officers spotted him and another man clumsily trying to move a long object in a plastic woven bag into a white SUV along the Jiangbin East Road on Wednesday morning.
Local police said the suspect is a former chef, according to Hangzhou-based newspaper Youth Times.
Suspicious about the cargo, the two officers, who happened to drive by the area, pulled over and ordered the two men to open the bag for inspection. The object turned out to be a dead tiger.
Police arrested the ex-chef, while the other suspect fled from the scene and is still at large.
Initial examinations by forestry department specialists found that the adult tiger, weighing about 150kg, was a male Siberian tiger aged between five and six years old. Traces of blood were seen near its mouth, though there were no other apparent wounds on the animal’s body.
A local zookeeper told the press that the tiger was unlikely to have come from the wild or the circus, as circus tigers usually have their canine teeth or “fangs” removed.
Investigators will conduct further examinations on the big cat to determine if it was implanted with a computer chip that would help them match it to a zoo.
It is a criminal offence to trade tigers, particularly Siberian tigers, which are protected under the multilateral agreement Cites, or Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora.
It is estimated that only 20 or so wild Siberian tigers are left in China.