Es­caped tiger from Ge­or­gia zoo shot af­ter killing man


A tiger that es­caped from Tbil­isi zoo in a freak flood mauled a man to death in the Ge­or­gian cap­i­tal on Wed­nes­day be­fore be­ing gunned down by po­lice, of­fi­cials said.

The in­te­rior min­istry had ini­tially said the an­i­mal was a lion and de­ployed spe­cial forces to hunt down the beast which had been on the loose since the week­end flood­ing that killed at least 17 peo­ple.

But min­istry spokes­woman Nino Gior­go­b­iani later told AFP: “It was one tiger. It has been liq­ui­dated.”

The at­tack came just two days af­ter the coun­try’s prime min­is­ter said all the an­i­mals which were swept from the zoo in the flood — in­clud­ing lions, bears and a hippo — had been killed or cap­tured.

Wit­nesses told Ge­or­gian tele­vi­sion they saw a per­son be­ing mauled by a white tiger near He­roes Square next to the zoo.

“It was a white tiger, a big one. It at­tacked a man, it seized him by the throat,” one ag­i­tated wit­ness told the Imedi chan­nel.

The vic­tim, a 43- year- old man, “was hos­pi­tal­ized with car­diac ar­rest and a sev­ered carotid artery,” the head of Tbil­isi’s Repub­li­can Hos­pi­tal, Av­tandil Imedadze, told AFP.

“The in­juries were fa­tal, doc­tors were un­able to re­store his heart beat to save him,” he said.

The flood­ing claimed the lives of at least 17 peo­ple, in­clud­ing three zoo work­ers, and caused mas­sive dam­age to the city’s cen­tral dis­tricts, with five peo­ple still miss­ing.

Ge­or­gian media said the tiger had been hid­ing in a ware­house and es­caped the city­wide hunt for the es­caped crea­tures.

A wit­ness told lo­cal tele­vi­sion that vic­tim had been as­sess­ing the dam­age to the build­ing.

The haunting pic­tures of fright­ened or dead an­i­mals made head­lines around the world and stirred con­tro­versy over the gov­ern­ment’s han­dling of Ge­or­gia’s dead­li­est floods in decades.

An­i­mal rights ac­tivists have de­manded an in­ves­ti­ga­tion into rev­e­la­tions that in at least some of the cases, the an­i­mals did not need to be shot.

But zoo di­rec­tor Zurab Gurielidze — who nearly lost his life try­ing to save the an­i­mals from the flood — has de­fended the gov­ern­ment’s re­sponse, say­ing of­fi­cials did their best to pro­tect peo­ple.

Garib­ashvili said Wed­nes­day that re­build­ing the dam­aged roads and in­fra­struc­ture could cost the gov­ern­ment up to US$45 mil­lion ( 40 mil­lion eu­ros).

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