(Reuters) - Police in Georgia shot and killed a Bengal tiger on Wednesday after the animal escaped from a transport truck and briefly roamed a suburban Atlanta neighborhood, menacing outdoor pets, authorities said.
The female tiger, which once performed for the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus, inexplicably got loose when the truck carrying it and other large cats made an overnight stop outside Atlanta, the Georgia Department of Natural Resources said in a statement.
Numerous sightings of the striped feline were reported along Interstate 75 during the early morning hours, it added.
“When the tiger became aggressive toward pets in the area, it was deemed necessary for public safety to put it down, and it was done quickly and humanely,” the agency said.
An examination of the dead cat revealed a microchip tracing it to Feld Entertainment Inc, the parent company of Ringling Bros., the state Natural Resources Department said, adding it was investigating the incident and “possible charges are pending.”
Feld spokesman Stephen Payne said the tiger, a 6-year-old named Suzy, belonged to an act contracted with the circus, which ceased operations in May.
“We were helping to transport the cats from Florida to Tennessee ahead of them going to Europe,” Payne said in an email to Reuters, adding that the company was cooperating with authorities.
Reporting by Keith Coffman in Denver; Editing by Steve Gorman and Clarence Fernandez