On January 2, border patrol agents at the Tuas checkpoint in Singapore arrested a man attempting to smuggle four kittens into neighboring Malaysia. The unidentified man, 45, had hidden the cats in his pants. According to Agence France-Presse, the agents heard strange “meowing” sounds coming from the man’s trousers. After examining the mysterious bulge in his trousers, they discovered four live kittens.
The man, a resident of Singapore, faces up to a year in prison and a fine of up to $7,360. In a statement released by the Singapore Immigration and Checkpoints Authority, the agency attempted to make light of the situation, stating, “Trying to get past fur-midable officers?. Impawsible.”
Officials are unsure as to why the man was smuggling the cats but believe he may have wanted to sell them. An immigration authority spokesperson said it is fairly common for people to smuggle illegal imports such as cigarettes under their clothing. “But to stuff four live kittens into one’s trousers,” she said, “this is the first time we’ve seen it.”
It is illegal to transport animals across the border in Singapore without informing officials of their health status due to the threat of introducing diseases such as rabies into the local habitat. According to the Animals and Birds Act, those importing animals illegally face a maximum fine of $10,000 and up to a year in jail. In Singapore, those hoping to travel with animals need to obtain an import license and health certificate. After the man was arrested, the kittens were put into quarantine by the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority, which is investigating the case. They are reportedly doing well.
According to the US State Department, it is not unusual for people to smuggle domestic animals across borders, yet wildlife smuggling or trafficking, which can be a health hazard for humans, generates $7.8 billion to $10 billion a year and is listed as the third most valuable illegal import in the world.
According to the United States Government Accountability Office, approximately 75% of emerging diseases that affect humans come from animals. Though the link between wildlife smuggling and disease outbreak is uncertain, outbreaks of certain diseases are believed to be linked to smuggled animals.