Tbilisi flooding: Big cats, bears still unaccounted for

These loving couple are Cleopatra and Samuel from Tbilisi Zoo. They survived the disaster. Photo by N. Alavidze/Agenda.ge.
Agenda.ge, 15 Jun 2015 - 15:11, Tbilisi,Georgia

Three lions, two bears, a tiger, jaguar and wolf could still be roaming Tbilisi streets following the massive flooding that destroyed the zoo in the Georgian capital on Sunday morning.

Reportedly, one of the three lions was last seen on Khiliani St in Saburtalo overnight, not far from Tbilisi centre.

Meanwhile two Cuban crocodiles, reported missing after the deadly flood, were found alive on Tbilisi Zoo territory after water levels dropped today.

The crocodiles will be housed in temporary closures with other animals that survived the disaster in the upper part of the Zoo. The lower part of the facility where the bears, big cats and other large animals lived was completely destroyed.

The Zoo Administration confirmed at least 30 dangerous animals had either escaped or had died during Saturday night’s severe flood. Some of the missing animals included 20 wolves, eight lions, white tigers, tigers, hyenas, jaguars and seven bears.

In the past 24 hours most of the missing animals had been either euthanised or tranquilised, but some were still unaccounted for.

This did not necessarily mean they were on the loose, as they could have died in the disaster but efforts were still in place to locate the missing animals, officials said. More would be known when the Zoo territory was cleaned up of the debris.

To ensure public safety, officials are urging people in Tbilisi to remain indoors until the all wild animals are accounted for.

In the recent hours some have criticized authorities for killing animals instead of using tranquilisers. In response to this, Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili said: "I love animals too but when an animal is aggressive and poses a danger to a human, we are obliged to… follow the law.”

It’s not known yet how many of the Zoo’s animals survived but a Zoo spokesperson said most of them had died.

Click here to see In Pictures what Tbilisi Zoo looked like before the disaster.

Meanwhile the Jerusalem Biblical Zoo has offered Georgia a helping hand to search for the remaining animals and help Tbilisi rebuild its devastated zoo.

Officials from the Israeli zoo said they would gladly send a team to Tbilisi carrying special equipment to help their Georgian friends locate and catch the animals safely.

Georgia’s Interior Ministry said the Israeli experts would arrive in Tbilisi tomorrow.