Some Georgia zoo animals 'may still be on the loose'

TBILISI, Georgia – Some animals from the flooded Tbilisi zoo might still be at large, zookeepers warned Thursday, June 18, after an escaped tiger mauled a man to death in the Georgian capital and had to be shot.

"Several animals may possibly be on the loose, but we need to complete a thorough inventory of dead and survived animals to know for sure," zoo spokeswoman Mzia Sharashidze told AFP.

The flash flood at the weekend tore through central districts of Tbilisi, wrecking the zoo and killing 19 people including three zoo workers.

More than half of the zoo's 600 animals either drowned in the muddy waters or were later killed by police.

Lions, tigers, bears and a hippo were seen roaming the flooded streets in the wake of the disaster and were either shot dead or recaptured and returned to their enclosures.

On Wednesday, June 17, a white tiger that escaped from the zoo mauled a man to death in central Tbilisi before being shot dead by police.

The tiger attack came just two days after Georgian Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili said all the animals which were swept from the zoo had been put down or captured.

He later apologized "for giving wrong information."

Animal rights activists have demanded an investigation into suggestions that some of the animals shot dead by police could have been spared.

Police said Wednesday they had searched a parking garage in a fashionable central neighborhood after being told a second tiger was sighted there, but ultimately dismissed it as a false alarm.

Sharashidze said a team of zookeepers was sent Wednesday to the Georgia-Azerbaijan border to search for an African penguin spotted there by local residents, but was unable to find the bird.

She also said that a group of monkeys was seen overnight in Tbilisi's central district. –