Georgian government criticised for deadly tiger attack

Residents say mismanagement of Tbilisi floods resulted in man being mauled by tiger that ran away from damaged zoo.

    Police commandos killed the predator on Wednesday at a warehouse where it jumped on a worker [Handout]
    Police commandos killed the predator on Wednesday at a warehouse where it jumped on a worker [Handout]

    A tiger that had broken loose after severe flooding at the zoo in the Georgian capital, Tbilisi, has mauled a man to death two days after government announced the city was safe.

    Police commandos killed the predator on Wednesday at a warehouse where it jumped on a worker.

    "We entered the depot and, suddenly, a white tiger rushed out of an adjacent room and attacked one of the workers, jumping at his throat and mauling him," Alexander Shavbulashvili, a colleague of the killed 40-year-old man whose name was not publicised, told the AP news agency. 

     Zoo animals on the loose in Georgia

    The incident caused public criticism of the country's government as Prime Minister Irakli Gharibashvili announced on Monday that all of the predators had been killed by snipers or drowned.

    "Why did we lose on more person for the stupidity and irresponsibility? Why didn't they not say that they didn't count them properly?" said Nino Danelia, Tbilisi resident, referring to the government.

    Another resident said the government's negligence equalled "murder".

    "We have an impotent, liar and murderer government," said Sofo Datuashvili, 32.

    Meanwhile, the authorities blamed the zoo officials for failing to provide reliable information.

    "The responsibility for counting the animals is of course the responsibility of the zoo administration," Davit Narmania, the mayor of Tbilisi, told the local news publication, Liberali, on Wednesday.

    RELATED: oo animals on the loose in Georgia amid deadly floods

    The confusion came from Zurab Gurielidze, the director of the zoo, who had been telling the local news outlets that none of the preditors were roaming the streets.

    However, the press office of the zoo announced on Tuesday that a tiger, a  hyena and a bear were not accounted for.

    Following Wednesday's incident a hyena and a bear are still considered to be posing danger to public.

    The flooding, triggered by torrential rains over the weekend, killed at least 19 people, destroyed houses and tore up roads. Six people remain missing.

    Paul Rimple, a journalist based in Tbilisi, told Al Jazeera on Monday the zoo estimated that about half of its 600 mammals, fish and birds had fled their enclosures amid the flooding from heavy rains and high winds.

    "People are walking around with their babies just a few blocks from where a wolf was shot in the south of the city. Until somebody gets mauled or killed, no one's going to panic," he said.

    The zoo said on Wednesday that one of its 17 penguins was found alive by Georgian border guards in the Kura River near the border with Azerbaijan, 40 km east of Tbilisi. Eight other penguins had been found alive earlier.

    Zoo officials say less than half of the zoo's 600 inhabitants have survived the flooding.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and agencies


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