Tiger Escapes Holding Cell At Zoo, Killed By Vet|Ed Malonefirstname.lastname@example.org|08/25/06 at 18:46:47|obadiah|xx|0|22.214.171.124|Tiger Escapes Holding Cell At Zoo, Killed By Vet
POSTED: 7:06 am EDT August 23, 2006
UPDATED: 1:14 pm EDT August 23, 2006
TAMPA, Fla. -- A 14-year-old endangered tiger was fatally shot when it threatened to enter a public area at Lowry Park Zoo after escaping its holding cell by a latch left unlocked, zoo officials said.
Enshala, a Sumatran tiger, was being secured shortly before the zoo's closing about 4:45 p.m. Tuesday when she slipped through an open door and in to a construction area, said Lex Salisbury, the zoo's president and chief executive officer.
Zoo veterinarian David Murphy shot a tranquilizer dart at the animal, but she became agitated and lurched at Murphy and a 7-foot wall separating the area from the public, officials said. That prompted Salisbury to shoot the tiger with a 12-gauge shot gun. When the animal continued moving, Salisbury fired three more shots, killing the tiger.
"I feel sick to my stomach that I had to do it," Salisbury said. "I've known this cat since it was born. And it's the last thing I would want to have to do."
This was the first time an animal at the zoo had to be killed because it posed a threat, officials said.
A couple dozen people in the park at the time of the tiger's escape were escorted to secure buildings or off property, zoo spokeswoman Rachel Nelson said.
The open latch is under investigation and repercussions for human error could include termination, Salisbury said.
Enshala was born at the zoo and spent most of her life there with the exception of three years when she lived at the Zoo in Gulf Breeze.
Sumatran tigers are the smallest of the tiger subspecies and are only found in the wild on the Indonesian island of Sumatra, according to the Honolulu Zoo. There are fewer than 500 left in the wild. ||