A wealthy couple complained to cops after they paid several thousand euros for an exotic kitten and were given a baby tiger instead.
Details of the case emerged after prosecutors prepared a report released this week, two years after the tiger was seized.
Nine people have been arrested in a lengthy animal trafficking investigation — including the couple who originally complained they'd been hoodwinked.
The couple, who are from the French port city of Le Havre, had decided that they wanted to own a Savannah cat, and ordered one through a buyer they found online.
The Savannah cat is a cross between a wild Serval and a domestic cat.
It is listed as an acceptable pet in France, but the tiger which the couple eventually received is not, and is protected by the CITES treaty that means it cannot even be transported without paperwork.
The deal that was agreed for the cat involved payment on delivery, but when the seller turned up they had with them a three-month-old Indonesian tiger cub instead of the promised Savannah cat.
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Yet despite the obvious differences, the couple claimed they did not realise they had a tiger cub for a few days, and as soon as they realised they called the police.
The couple said they had paid EUR 6,000 (GBP 5,484) for the kitten in September 2018.
The young feline in question is a Sumatran tiger (Panthera tigris sondaica), a protected species which is illegal to privately own.
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Police were initially unclear as to where the tiger came from, although, it had turned up on selfies in Elbeuf and even in a rap video filmed in Petit-Quevilly in the Seine-Maritime department in the region of Normandy, France.
The investigation, entrusted to the Regional Intervention Group of the National Police and the Departmental Security, has now finally been completed after two years.
An official report announced the arrest of nine suspects, including the original victim couple, for trafficking in a protected species.
Others are facing charges of being involved in organised crime.
According to France Bleu, the tiger, in good health, was entrusted to the French Biodiversity Office and eventually given a new home although it was not revealed where this was.
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