Rescue workers in the Georgian capital are still searching today for more than 20 people and an undetermined number of potentially dangerous animals missing after severe flooding ravaged the area around a zoo and left at least 12 people dead. None of the dead were killed by the zoo animals that ran off after the floodwaters destroyed their enclosures, the Tbilisi zoo director says, though three zoo employees drowned. Among the animals that fled the zoo were lions, tigers, bears, wolves, a hippopotamus, and one jaguar. Some, including the hippopotamus, were tranquilized and returned to the zoo. A zoo rep says four lions, three tigers, and two jaguars were killed either in the flood or on the loose.
A young white lion named Shumba was found yesterday shot in the head on zoo territory, says the zoo director, demanding an investigation into the shootings. "If a predator attacked a person, then it's understandable, but there are cases that need looking into," he says. The fate of four lions, three tigers, and a jaguar is not yet known. The flooding also killed about 60 homeless dogs at a shelter near the zoo. Heavy rain early yesterday caused a landslide that blocked what is normally a pleasant stream in the hilly city, but as the floodwaters grew in strength, the fierce torrent broke through. The raging waters swept through the zoo, gouged huge chunks out of roads and swamped numerous houses. About 40 homes were destroyed. (More flooding stories.)