Wild Animals Roam Streets After Floods Destroy Zoo

Tbilisi residents warned to stay indoors after dangerous creatures freed
By Polly Davis Doig,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 14, 2015 7:32 AM CDT
Wild Animals Roam Streets After Floods Destroy Zoo
People help a hippo escape a flooded zoo in Tbilisi, Georgia, Sunday, June 14, 2015. Tigers, lions, a hippopotamus, and other animals have escaped the zoo in the capital after heavy flooding.   (AP Photo/Tinatin Kiguradze)

Some 1.1 million people in the Georgian capital of Tbilisi have been told to stay indoors after widespread flooding left their streets decidedly more wild than usual: Lions, tigers, bears, wolves, and a hippopotamus escaped their confines at the city's zoo after surging waters destroyed them, reports al Jazeera. At least 10 people, including three zoo workers have been confirmed dead, though it's not clear if any of the human deaths were due to escaped animals. "I can’t imagine this tragedy," a zoo rep says. "Almost the whole zoo is underwater." What's also not clear: How many animals escaped. The hippo was later shot with a tranquilizer gun in front of a Swatch store in one of the city's main squares, reports the Washington Post; other zoo animals including a lion, bear, and hyena, were reportedly shot and killed, notes the AP.

"The situation is rather difficult," Georgian PM Irakli Garibashvili said, per the Post. "We haven’t seen anything like this in Tbilisi before." The leader of the Georgian Orthodox Church had an interesting place to lay blame for the disaster, notes the AP: "When Communists came to us in this country, they ordered that all crosses and bells of the churches be melted down and the money used to build the zoo," he said. "The sin will not go without punishment. I am very sorry that Georgians fell so that a zoo was built at the expense of destroyed churches." (More Tbilisi stories.)

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