Published: 00:00, 13 December 2001
A TIGER which escaped from its compound at Howletts wild animal park at Bekesbourne, near Canterbury did so by chewing its way through the fence, it has emerged. Four-year-old Indian tiger, Sariska, was shot and killed after biting through the fence before the zoo opened last Wednesday.
A Howletts official said she had been fighting with the other tiger in her enclosure and had spent hours during the night forming a small hole in the fence which she managed to squeeze through. "It is our usual policy to let tigers sort out their own squabbles," said the official.
"She did not climb or jump out of the enclosure, which is constructed to the zoo licencing standards of 12ft high with a 2ft overhang and had had tigers in it for more 30 years. The tiger that escaped had been fed the day before. The park was not open to the public at the time of the escape and there was never any danger to the public."
Security at the zoo has been tightened since the incident. The official said that, before the escape, all compounds were fully checked every other day. Now they are checked every day before public opening. "We called in the local authority's health and safety and after discussion decided to strengthen the tiger fencing as a precation by installing 4ft weldmesh around the tiger enclosures," he added.