ATLANTA • A Bengal tiger, which once performed for the Ringling Bros and Barnum & Bailey Circus, was shot dead by police on Wednesday.
Called Suzy, it had escaped from a truck and briefly roamed a suburban Atlanta neighbourhood, menacing pets. The truck carrying 14 tigers had made an overnight stop outside Atlanta, the Georgia Department of Natural Resources said.
Numerous sightings of Suzy were reported along Interstate 75 during the early morning hours, it said. "When the tiger became aggressive towards pets in the area, it was deemed necessary for public safety to put it down, and it was done quickly and humanely," it said.
A microchip on it traced ownership to Feld Entertainment, the parent company of Ringling Bros, the Georgia Department of Natural Resources said, adding that "possible charges are pending".
Reuters cited Feld spokesman Stephen Payne as saying that six-year-old Suzy belonged to an act contracted with the circus, which closed in May. "We were helping to transport the cats from Florida to Tennessee ahead of them going to Europe," he added.
According to People, the 14 tigers, which were based in Florida after the circus shuttered, were on their way to Germany. They had been sent to the United States from the same German circus they were being reexported to.
Ringling Bros and Barnum & Bailey Circus folded after 146 years when turnouts dropped, costs escalated and criticism from animal rights groups mounted.