A tiger that had once been part of Ringling Bros and Barnum & Bailey circus was shot and killed by officers from the Henry County Police Department after it escaped and attacked a dog. Feld officials said they were still trying to figure out how the tiger got out and were unaware that it had been on the loose for several hours. No people were injured by the six-year-old female tiger named Suzy, who had been raised by its trainer since it was a cub.
“We don’t know how it escaped and we’re still trying to figure out what happened,” said company spokesperson Stephen Payne.
After a 146 show-year run, the circus stopped touring in May, not long after it agreed to stop performing with elephants. The tiger was preparing to travel to Germany with trainer Alexander Lacey and was awaiting the proper permits and paperwork to ship overseas. In May Feld applied for an Endangered Species Act permit with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to export 15 of its big cats to a circus in Munich, Germany, called Zirkus Krone.
“This afternoon, after seeing news reports, an official with Feld Entertainment, Inc., a company contracted to transport the tiger, contacted Georgia DNR Law Enforcement to report the missing animal from a shipment, which was traveling from Florida to Tennessee,” a statement from Georgia’s Department of Natural Resources Law Enforcement Division explains. “The truck had stopped in Georgia during the overnight hours and during that stop, the female Bengal tiger managed to escape unnoticed. Feld discovered that she was missing when the truck arrived at the destination.”
The tiger was first spotted at 6 a.m. near Interstate 75. Police shot and killed the tiger after it attacked a dog in the backyard of a private residence.
Payne said the animal must have gotten loose somehow, although he said Feld was still investigating the incident.
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