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Thursday, March 20, 1997

Tiger takes morning stroll after escaping from Wild Animal Orphanage

SAN ANTONIO (AP) - A 300-pound Bengal tiger took a leisurely morning stroll after escaping from the Wild Animal Orphanage, authorities say.

The adolescent tiger named Sheryl jumped a 10-foot fence to get away from the animal orphanage northwest of San Antonio early Tuesday.

No one was attacked or threatened, but she attacked and killed a North American duck and an African ostrich before wounding a South American llama, officials said.

Orphanage officials said they believe the tiger got out after being provoked by an intruder who broke into the property by scaling a perimeter fence.

Several petting animals also were released from their pens, orphanage director Carol Asvestas said.

"We've gone over the property with a fine-tooth comb. Somebody came in, in the middle of the night, jumped the front fence, turned out the petting animals and somehow provoked (the tiger) to leave that area," Asvestas said.

The orphanage is a non-profit organization which provides care and homes to unwanted exotic animals, many of them bought as pets but later discarded by their owners when they became unmanageable.

Sheryl was the first tiger to escape from the orphanage in 13 years, officials said, but she didn't roam very far in the sparsely populated area where there are about a dozen homes.

During her morning stroll, the tiger also took a bath in a gully filled with water.

The stroll ended when the tiger recognized one of the orphanage's volunteer handlers and followed a woman back inside the compound.

Steve Dobbins, the orphanage's assistant manager, shot a tranquilizer dart to put her to sleep so handlers and two veterinarians from the San Antonio Zoo could move her to a pen.

Some Bexar County deputies were alerted about the loose tiger didn't have to get involved, but the incident "spooked" them.

"I think I'll transfer back to the South Side, where they have loose cows and that's it," said one, who didn't want his name to be used. Send a Letter to the Editor about This Story | Start or Join A Discussion about This Story
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