MELUN, France (AFP) - Police and firefighters were desperately hunting for a tiger on the loose near Paris Thursday after a local resident took a photo of the fearsome animal and sounded the alert, authorities said.
Backed up by a helicopter overhead, firefighters armed with paralysing weapons were mobilised for the search in the Seine-et-Marne district near the French capital.
"We have been running after it since this morning, police officers are trying to intercept it," a police source said.
A woman spotted the animal in a supermarket car park in the town of Montevrain on Thursday morning.
"My wife saw it this morning," Jean-Baptiste Berdeaux, who manages the Intermarche supermarket, told AFP. "She didn't get out of the car and called me to say 'I think I saw a lynx'," he said, adding she took a photo of the animal and the couple then alerted police officers nearby.
It is as yet unclear where the tiger comes from. An AFP reporter on the scene saw a dozen or so fire engines and police vehicles lined up near the supermarket.
Authorities said they were hoping to catch the animal alive. "If it's possible, we'll try and put it to sleep. If it becomes dangerous or aggressive, the order will be given to kill it," police said.
The town of Montevrain is a stone's throw away from the Disneyland Paris but a source close to the investigation said there was no link to the theme park.
Authorities have also made enquiries at a big-cat wildlife park 30 kilometres away and a circus that recently passed through town but no missing tiger has yet been reported.