Animals on the loose after flood
Lions, tigers, bears and other animals escaped from their zoo enclosures and roamed Tbilisi, the capital of Georgia, yesterday after flooding in the former Soviet republic that killed at least eight people, officials said.
"At least eight people died" in the flood, Interior Minister Vakhtang Gomelauri told Georgia's Rustavi 2 television. An official quoted by the channel said the toll later rose to nine.
The Vere river burst its banks in central Tbilisi after hours of torrential rain, turning streets and squares into raging streams, sweeping away cars and flooding houses.
Dozens of families in the city of 1.2 million were left without shelter and thousands were without water and electricity .
Animals including tigers, lions, jaguars, bears, and wolves escaped from cages in the flooded Tbilisi zoo.
NBC News reported that a hippopotamus was tranquilized in one of Tbilisi's main squares.
Others like wolves and the zoo's beloved white lion Shumba were dealt with lethally.
Six wolves were shot dead at an infectious diseases hospital while Shumba was killed after being shot in the head.
"Our Shumba is no more. It's simply possible that someone exceeded his authority," Zoo director Zurab Gurielidze said about the loss of Shumba.
Sources: AFP, NBC News