Tale of a Tiger Cub

Early one summer morning, a sports car without license plates crept toward the U.S.–Mexico border from Tijuana. Under the passenger’s legs, a small orange and black cat cowered. When questioned about the animal, the passenger claimed that it was “just a cat.” But nothing could have been further from the truth.

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Shortly after being rescued, tiger cub Moka explores his Tiger Trail habitat at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park

After being rescued from the illegal wildlife trade, Moka found sanctuary at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park.



Journey to Safety

Tiny and defenseless, the Bengal tiger cub was taken from his mother before he was even six weeks old. A victim of wildlife trafficking, he was confiscated from smugglers at the border, then taken to the San Diego Zoo Safari Park for care. When he was rescued, he weighed six pounds—less than the average house cat.

Once he arrived at the Safari Park, the cub was named Moka, which means “chance” in Bengali. While there, Moka received world-class care and a lifesaving surgery. He also enjoyed the company of Rakan, a Sumatran tiger cub whose mother was unable to care for him. Together, the cubs thrived, developing essential tiger skills like stalking, pouncing, wrestling, and climbing.



Moka and Rakan, tiger cubs, play together on a log in Tiger Trail at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park

Moka (left) and Rakan thrived together, and learned how to be tigers.



The Lucky Ones

With their iconic stripes, tigers are one of the most recognizable species on Earth. Unfortunately, their beauty also makes them appealing to poachers, who sell tiger pelts and body parts on the black market. Today, there are less than 2,500 Bengal tigers and 400 Sumatran tigers left in the wild.

Fortunately, Moka and Rakan will never hear the echo of a rifle shot, smell the burn of gunpowder, or run for their lives. But not every tiger is so lucky.



Moka and Rakan explore rocks and a pool in Tiger Trail at the San Diego Zoo Safari park

Moka (right) and Rakan grew up into strong, confident tigers.



You Can Help

Wild cats around the world are in danger of disappearing forever. Wildlife trafficking, habitat loss, and deadly conflicts with people have devastated cat populations, bringing many species to the brink of extinction, but you can save them.

To protect wild cats and ensure their survival, we’ve launched the Global Cat Conservancy™. With your support, we can protect wild cats worldwide and halt their decline. Your tax-deductible donation to the San Diego Zoo Global Wildlife Conservancy will help save wild cats around the world.

Your gift of $100 helps stop poaching and put an end to wildlife trafficking.
Make a difference >

Your gift of $250 protects humans and wild cats from deadly clashes with each other.
I'll help them! >

Your gift of $1,200 educates scientists, helping them find cures for life-threatening diseases that are devastating wild cat populations.
I'll be a sponsor! >

For gifts of $1,200 or more, your name (or that of a loved one) will be listed on the San Diego Zoo Global Annual Conservation Recognition Plaque, displayed at the San Diego Zoo from Spring 2020 to Spring 2021.

Are You a Cool Cat?

Make a gift in your pet's honor and they'll become a Cool Cat!

With a monthly gift of $19 or more, or a one-time gift of $250, your pet will be recognized on our digital wall. All pets are welcome!

See all the Cool Cats >

A cheetah in the wild
rhino mom and baby


Without visitors to offset our ongoing costs, your support is more crucial now than ever before.

Your tax-deductible gift will care for wildlife at the Zoo and Safari Park and provide a sustainable lifeline for endangered species worldwide.