Tiger escapes from trip to the vet in South Africa

Tue Jul 27, 2010 7:12am EDT
 
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JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) - A 17-month-old tiger escaped from the back of a pick-up truck while it was being driven to a veterinary clinic in South Africa, triggering a helicopter search by police and wildlife experts.

Owner Rose Fernandes told local radio on Tuesday she had no idea how the 140 kg (310 lb) animal, called Panjo, had managed to spring a lock on the pick-up as it headed for a medical check-up in Springs, a town 40 km east of Johannesburg, South Africa's largest city.

She said Panjo was used to humans and told anyone who came across the animal to treat it "like a dog" by picking up a stick and saying "No" in a loud voice.

Giving it meat, especially chicken, would also be likely to keep it happy, she added.

Police were less confident about the big cat's passive nature, urging people living along the stretch of road where the tiger is thought to have escaped to keep their eyes open and report any sightings to the authorities.

(Reporting by Xola Potelwa, Editing by Ed Cropley)