Joel Callen


Tue, 16 Jun, 2015

Zoo animals on the loose in Georgia after terrible flooding

Zoo animals on the loose in Georgia after terrible flooding

In the wake of severe flooding that has left at least 12 people dead, zoo animals are running loose in the Georgian capital of Tbilisi. Hours of torrential rain caused the River Vere to burst its banks, causing substantial damage to the city’s infrastructure.

Several main roads have been wiped out, while some small houses and cars were swept away by the strong torrents of water. In one city cemetery, coffins were washed out of the ground.

Georgia’s Prime Minister, Irakli Garibashvii, warned residents to remain indoors while the zoo animals were still on the loose. Lions, tigers, and even a hippopotamus were among the escaped animals. Police and soldiers were hunting down the animals, managing to capture some, while others had to be shot.

A spokeswoman for the Tbilisi Zoo, Mzia Sharashidze, reported that three bodies had been found on zoo premises, two of them zoo employees. A large part of the zoo is “simply non-existent,” Ms Sharashidze said. “It was turned into a hellish whirlpool.”

The death toll for the zoo’s animals has been devastating. Zoo director Zurab Gurielidze stated that, “all our lions and tigers are dead. We also failed to save our monkeys. They all drowned, unable to escape their cages.” Only three of the zoo’s 17 penguins were saved, while a hippo was able to be returned to its enclosure after swimming in the flooded Heroes’ Square in downtown Tbilisi.

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