A Box Sat in An Airport for 7 Days – And When It Was Opened, The Contents Were Heartbreaking
Heartbreaking doesn’t begin to describe what was found in the box left at the airport without being opened for seven days. Boxes arrive at the airport all the time and are usually picked up or shipped off to the next destination. In this case, the box sat there without anyone attempting to claim it because there was no labels or notification of what was in the box. After seven days, someone became interested in the box and pried the lid off to a gruesome scene. Stomachs turned, and hearts broke at the ghastly sight.
1 The Beirut airport in Lebanon received the small plain wooden box on March 7, 2017 with an unknown origin. The wooden box was 10.6 cubic feet with small holes in the sides, and outside of these details, there was nothing of note about the box.
2 With no address label as to where the crate was to go or where it came from, it just sat in customs awaiting its owner to claim it. The box might have sat for months without being noticed.
3 As destiny would have it, the small box came to the attention of the animal-welfare organization, Animals Lebanon (AL). How the organization became interested in the small box is unknown, but the members started working through the process to get the box opened.
4 Once AL was notified about the lost box, they alerted the Ministry of Agriculture and Customs. Ministry workers went to the airport to investigate and open the box. The contents were nothing anyone was expecting.
5 The box was actually a small live cargo crate containing three Siberian tiger cubs. There was nothing on the crate indicating it contained live animals, so the normal handling of live animal crates procedures were not followed. Obviously, the tigers did not receive any food or water and the crate was too small for three live tigers.
6 The animal crate was 16.5 inches (42 centimeters) high, and the tigers were all about 23.5 inches (60 centimeters) tall. There was no room for them to fully stand, and no place for them to urinate or defecate. They were shipped off with what seemed to be little or no care for their safety.
7 After discovering the precious cargo in the crate, the AL team got to work fast to gain access to the contents. Contacting Judge, Hasan Hamdan, the group shared the information they had about the crate and its contents in hopes the Judge would see the urgency of the situation and grant permission for the group to get necessary care to the tigers without delay.
8 At this point, the three tigers had been imprisoned in the small box without food, water, or necessary clean-up care for seven full days. Judge Hamdan ruled in favor of saving the tigers. The order allowed the AL group to take over the contents of the crate, the tigers, and work to save their lives. The AL group members raced from court to the airport with the good news.
9 The AL group was finally able to fully open the crate, and the opening was a sickening experience for all present. The three tigers had been crammed in a space too small for them to stand without nutrition or a place for elimination other than on themselves and each other. You can only imagine the horror in those first few minutes.
10 The four month old tiger cubs were starving, dehydrated, and had naturally created an unhealthy environment due to the tight conditions.
11 The tiger’s paws and rear legs were just raw from being confined in their own waste. Their bodies had started the process of breaking down, so there were other critters in the cage with them beginning to eat away the rotting flesh.
12 Yes, you guess right, the scene was doubly gruesome with the addition of maggots on the animal’s legs and anus. The executive director for AL, Jason Mier, was horrified by the sight. All present were saddened and angered by the treatment of the tiger cubs.
13 Once the story went public, ABC News reported the cubs were being transferred between two zoos. They reportedly originated from a zoo in Mykolaiv, Ukraine, but Volodymyr Topchiy, the zoo’s director, feigned innocence.
14 In early April 2017, Topchiy told ABC News that the tigers were to be sent from the Ukrainian zoo to a zoo in Syria. He reported the tiger cubs passed customs, and offered the customs declarations. Topchiy believed it was the bureaucracy at customs that interrupted the animal’s journey. The AL group had a different story.
15 Mier, from AL, reported there was no paperwork with the tigers was being transported in conditions that would be considered short of the legal requirements. The fact that there was no documentation and the travel conditions was exactly why Judge Hamdan ruled in favor of the AL group taking control of the box and live cargo.
16 Al few in a specialized wildlife veterinarian to examine and treat the tigers. Outside of the obvious health conditions, they were found lacking in the necessary vaccines and not all had a microchip, as required.
17 The tiger cubs bounced back quickly from their ordeal and are flourishing today. Their names were changed in recognition of AL contributors. The two female tigers were named May and Tania, and the male was named Antoun.
18 While the cubs are recovering, it was noticed that May is the most confident of the group, as she first to eat or explore. Tania follows May around, like any little sister, and Antoun is the shy one of the bunch. They all are healing up and enjoying playing with each other.
19 While the tigers are recovering, their owners are fighting to have them returned. The AL group is fighting to keep them safe. A judge will determine their fate, but for now, the celebration is on getting the crate opened in time to save them.