Tiger euthanised in South Africa after escaping from private home

JOHANNESBURG, Jan 18 (Reuters) - South African authorities euthanised a tiger on Wednesday after she escaped from an enclosure in a private home, killed several animals and injured a man, raising questions about whether exotic animals should be allowed to be kept as pets.

The Bengal tiger, an eight-year-old female named Sheba, had been living in the enclosure at an address in the outskirts of Johannesburg until her escape on Friday evening.

She killed two dogs, a pig and a deer and injured a 39-year-old man before local residents managed to chase her away using torches.

"She mauled his lower legs round below his knees and also below his waist," said Gresham Mandy of the local community policing forum that brings together residents and police representatives to work on safety issues.

"The decision was made to euthanize her to prevent any further tragedy this morning," he told Reuters.

Police had spent days trying to locate the tiger until she was spotted in the early hours of Wednesday entering a dwelling.

Animal rights activist Dr Louise de Waal said it was a sad end for "this poor animal who has never asked to be a pet in somebody's backyard".

Tigers are not native to Africa. The person who had been keeping Sheba did not speak to media and the origin of the animal was unknown.

South Africa's Gauteng province, where Johannesburg is located, requires no permit to own wild and exotic animals.

The National Society for the Protection of Animals (NSPCA), which took part in the search for Sheba, said police officers tried to bring her back to her enclosure but those attempts were unsuccessful and the safety of the community was prioritised.

"You can clearly see in a situation like this, because of how lax the legislation is when it comes to keeping these animals, often the welfare of the animal is simply disregarded," said Keshvi Nair, public relations officer at the NSPCA.

Reporting by Ihsaan Haffejee and Catherine Schenck; Writing by Anait Miridzhanian; Editing by Estelle Shirbon and Aurora Ellis

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