Safari park's escaped tiger goes home alone

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 24 September, 2003, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 24 September, 2003, 12:00am

A rare Siberian tiger that escaped from a safari park in northeastern Jilin province returned home on its own after eluding police and park officials for more than 60 hours.

On Saturday afternoon, the 350kg tiger scrambled up a pine tree and leaped over a four-metre fence. As it made its escape, the big cat attacked Jiang Fengbo, a migrant worker who was picking pine nuts up a tree outside the park. The 22-year-old was bitten on the throat and on the thigh, and suffered fractured vertebrae when he fell from the tree.

He is in stable condition in hospital.

More than 60 police officers and dozens of park officials mounted a hunt for tiger. They were reported to have surrounded the beast, shooting and wounding it, late on Saturday, but the carnivore got away, forcing the police to widen their search.

On foot and in vehicles, they closed in on the animal, leaving open only the route back to the safari park, with a cow, a sheep and several chickens serving as bait. After 21/2 days on the run, the tiger approached the park, killed the cow and had a feed before strolling back inside the gates.

Sun Tianhua, one of the park's owners, said that the tiger was in good condition and had only been grazed by the bullet.

His mate had sat by the gate waiting for him the entire time he was on the loose, she said.

The management now planned to build two new fences, including an electrified one, to prevent further escapes, she said.

The park, which is home to 10 adult Siberian tigers and four cubs, opened in July last year.

A man was savaged to death there late last year when he climbed over the fence, reportedly to take a short cut home.

Siberian tigers are highly endangered. There are only about 400 surviving in the wild, about 20 of them in China and the remainder in Russia.