Police Hunt 2nd Tiger After Escaped Zoo Animal Kills Man in Tbilisi, Georgia

The first tiger was shot dead.

ByABC News
June 17, 2015, 1:21 PM

MOSCOW — -- Residents of Tbilisi, Georgia, are being terrorized by tigers, real and imagined, after a man was killed by a white tiger and police said they were looking for a second tiger that escaped from the city’s zoo during recent floods.

The man's death came less than a day after officials said most of the animals believed roaming the city after the floods had been captured.

The man was killed Wednesday morning when he and another worker stumbled across a tiger that had been hiding in an abandoned factory.

"We entered the depot and, suddenly, a white tiger rushed out of an adjacent room and attacked one of the workers," colleague Alexander Shavbulashvili told The Associated Press. "We broke the window of another room to flee, and the sound of breaking glass must have scared it and it ran away."

The second worker escaped unharmed. Police then arrived and shot the tiger dead, saying there had been no opportunity to tranquilize it.

Now, police say they are searching for what they believe is a second tiger.

The tiger or tigers were among hundreds of animals, including lions, bears and a hippopotamus, that escaped into the streets of the Georgian capital after the zoo was destroyed by severe floods. Special forces units were used to hunt down the animals and killed several of them.

A spokeswoman for the zoo on Tuesday had told the AP that all its animals had been accounted for, except for one jaguar, and that all seven of its tigers had been found dead. It was unclear how the white tiger had been missed. On Wednesday, zoo officials were not responding to calls, but the zoo’s director, Zurab Gurielidze, turned himself in to police, saying that it was his fault, the AP reported. He has been released.

It was not entirely clear what exactly the police were hunting for -- the missing jaguar, a full-grown white tiger or something else. A local police officer told ABC News that officers were searching for a tiger, although they couldn’t be totally certain that was what it was. The officer said, “It’s most likely a tiger. Probably.”

Meanwhile, one of the zoo’s penguins has been found at the border with Azerbaijan. The African penguin apparently swam roughly 37 miles along a river to reach the border, where it was stopped after people noticed it. A zoo official told Georgian media someone had been sent to collect him.

That venturesome penguin was one of only four of the zoo’s 17 penguins to have survived the floods. Roughly half the zoo’s animals died in the floods that deluged Tbilisi on Saturday. At least 19 people were also killed and six remain missing.