A pair of Sumatran tigers escaped from a zoo on Borneo island on Friday, killing a zookeeper, a cassowary, an ostrich and a monkey before being hunted down by conservation officials. One of the critically endangered tigers was shot dead, while the other was captured alive a short time later after being hit with a tranquilizer dart.
The tigers, both female and about 18 months old, broke out of their enclosure at Singkawang's Sinka Zoo, in Indonesia’s West Kalimantan province, when after days of torrential rain a landslide opened a tunnel that allowed for their escape. A 47-year-old zookeeper was found dead near the tiger cage with scratches and bite wounds on his body, and a number of animals were found to have been killed around the zoo.
Police launched a large-scale hunt for the runaway cats while locals in the area were told to stay home and nearby tourism attractions were ordered to close. The initial plan was to retrieve both tigers alive. But Sadtata Noor Adirahmanta, the head of a local conservation agency, confirmed that one of the tigers had to be gunned down.
"We tried with a tranquilliser gun first but it didn't work, so we were forced to shoot the tiger because it was already behaving very aggressively," he told AFP. "We were afraid it would escape to the nearest neighbourhood. Although we tried our best to catch it alive, our priority is humans' safety."
Authorities set up a cage with animal prey in an attempt to lure the remaining tiger back to the zoo at feeding time, as well as deploying drones to try and locate the tiger in the dense jungle surrounding the zoo. The animal was finally apprehended with the use of a tranquilizer dart, and is now being monitored by medical experts.
Sumatran tigers are listed as Critically Endangered on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species due to poaching, habitat loss and human-wildlife conflict. There are estimated to be less than 400 remaining in the wild.