July 27, 2010 / 6:01 PM / 9 years ago

Tiger escapes from trip to the vet

A tiger looks on as it rests at the Lionsrock Big Cat Sanctuary near Bethlehem, South Africa April 26, 2010.REUTERS/Peter Andrews

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 Tuesday she had no idea how the 310-pound 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 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

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