A man from the United Arab Emirates was arrested at a Bangkok airport after baby leopards, panthers, monkeys, and a bear were found in his luggage.
Noor Mahmoodr, 36, had two leopards, two panthers, two macaque monkeys and an Asiatic black bear inside his bags when anti-trafficking officers stopped him at Suvarnabhumi International Airport.
Undercover officers from the Thai Nature Crime Police had been monitoring the suspect frosince the animals were purchased on the black market.
"The trafficker was stunned, it was a perfect undercover operation by the Thai Police Task Force," Steven Galster, director of FREELAND Foundation, whose staff were present , said in a press release.
When the suitcases were opened the animals yawned.
"It looked like they had sedated the animals and had them in flat cages so they couldn't move around much," The Guardian quoted Galster as saying.
"It was a very sophisticated smuggling operation. We've never seen one like this before. The guy had a virtual zoo in his suitcases."
Some of the animals were found inside canisters with air holes.
Authorities said the man was part of a trafficking network, and they are searching for accomplices.
Sky News reported that Galster said the man, who had been travelling first class, "seems to have some special connections. He has already been released on bail."