Police in the Georgian capital have shot and killed a white tiger after it killed a man on Wednesday.
Severe flooding allowed hundreds of animals to escape from Tblisi zoo, and the white tiger killed a man at a warehouse in the city center before police shot it, writes Laura Smith-Spark for CNN.
Man attacked by the tiger died before reaching hospital
The animal had gone unaccounted for since floods allowed it to escape its enclosure at the zoo over the weekend. It attacked and killed a 43-year-old man who worked at the warehouse, according to the Ministry of Internal Affairs. Doctors who attended the man said that he died from wounds to the throat while on his way to hospital.
Earlier reports had claimed that a second man had been injured by the tiger, but the ministry denied that anyone else had been injured. According to the zoo administration another tiger is still missing, and no one knows whether it has died or escaped the zoo alive.
The attack prompted an apology from Georgian Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili, who claimed that the zoo administration had wrongly informed him that all of its dangerous animals had been accounted for.
Residents of Tblisi have been told to stay inside following the massive floods. City workers have been carrying out a cleanup operation with the help of volunteers.
Flooding causes extensive damage
Civil Georgia, a news website run by the NGO United Nations Association of Georgia, said that 19 people are known to have died in the flooding. Six more people are still missing.
Around 50% of the 600 zoo animals were lost. The roll call included lions, tigers, bears and wolves, some of which have been recaptured. Other animals died in the flooding or have since been killed by police.
An African penguin managed to swim 37 miles downriver to the border with Azerbaijan before it was caught alive, according to RT.com. Video footage from the city has shown a crocodile being restrained by workers, and a hippopotamus looking befuddled as it stands in floodwaters. The hippo was tranquilized and recaptured in a square.
Other videos showed how flash floods destroyed Tblisi, sweeping away roads, a house and large numbers of trees, and the bodies of dead animals could be seen on the streets.
Politicians address loss of life
Heavy rainfall on Saturday night turned the usually calm Vere River into a torrent. Tblisi City Hall published photos on its Facebook page showing washed out roads, landslides and vehicles tossed around by the water.
Prime Minister Garibashvili expressed his condolences to the families of the victims of the flooding, and proposed that a park be created in their honor within the zoo premises. “It will be a park of solidarity, a symbol of our unity, selflessness, and mutual support,” he said in a statement on his website.
President Georgi Margvelashvili claimed that the Tblisi mayoral office would help those who suffered financially due to the floods. “The situation is difficult, but it can be handled except for the fact that we cannot bring back those who died,” he said.
The shooting of the tiger raises questions as to why it could not be tranquilized and recaptured. The World Wildlife Fund says that only 3,200 tigers still live in the wild, and greater conservation efforts are needed to prevent them being endangered even further.