Update: Escaped KZN tiger belongs to Boswell Circus
Editor's note: This story has been updated to reflect that the animal has been killed.
Pietermaritzburg - A retired circus tiger has been shot and killed after it escaped from the Natal Zoological Gardens in Pietermaritzburg on Wednesday.
Newsful reported then that Ban Animal Trading South Africa (Team BAT) confirmed that the tiger belonged to circus owner Brian Boswell.
The public were alerted to the hunt for the tiger after Nicole May took to Facebook in a desperate attempt to save it's life. Tigers are listed on an endangered species list. Ms. May lambasted Mr. Boswell and his staff for carrying a shotgun and not a dart gun to subdue the escaped animal. Her post led to over 163 people sharing her message and several concerned citizens contacted the SPCA and Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife for help. Both welfare organisations responded to the incident.
Meanwhile, yesterday, Empangeni SPCA Senior Inspector Roland Fivas also took to Facebook to answer several questions about the incident. He confirmed that animal welfare officials were dealing with the case and also added his suspicion that the tiger was wounded. Mr. Fivas said only vets could dart an animal and that it appeared as though the tiger was injured.
Asked Karen Wadsworth Borain: "Can they (the staff) legally just kill the tiger?" Mr. Fivas replied: "Yes they can. Right now it is a dangerous animal on the loose and all steps must be taken to ensure public safety."
Chavonne Chetty wrote: "Their (the owners of the tiger) true colours are coming out for the world to see! They want to kill and hide the body (of the tiger)... but now we all know and will spread the word about their inhumanity! And I pray they are out of business after this!"
Team BAT lambasted Boswell for shooting the animal, saying the tiger was shot "due to their (Boswell's) negligence" in preventing an escape. The group said that after the escape, the tiger would be regarded as a dangerous wild animal.
Team BAT also said that they have staged several protests outside Boswell's circus over issues with the use of captive animals. "Violation [after] violation and people still walk around with blinkers on."
A police investigation into how the animal escaped and it's eventual demise was expected to begin.