TBILISI, DFWatch–“I acknowledge that based on me as a source, government bodies reported this information and it was considered that there was no longer a threat. It is all my fault,” says the director of Tbilisi Zoo after an escaped tiger killed a man Wednesday.
Zoo director Zurab Gurielidze said yesterday evening that there was no threat to the public.
“Despite this, the Interior Ministry was patrolling the area, but the search was halted inside buildings.”
After today’s attack, he said he takes responsibility for what happened.
Today, a white tiger attacked a man in the center of Tbilisi. The man died later at the hospital.
Government officials said yesterday that there was no longer any threat of escaped animals. Today, the minister of internal affairs and the prime minister explained that they relied on information from the zoo that no predators were on the loose.
Despite those statements, some media noted that the zoo made a statement yesterday evening that one tiger, one bear and a hyena were still missing.
“Yesterday we had in fact found almost all the animals. Currently, we are looking for a tiger, a bear and a hyena. The likelihood that these animals are still alive is minimal,” the zoo’s press spokesperson Mzia Sharashidze said, according to Interpressnews.
Gurelidze was later Wednesday summoned to the Prosecutor General’s Office with his lawyer. He didn’t make any comments to media before going in. The Prosecutor General’s Office have begun investigating the tiger attack as negligence, but so far no particular persons have been charged in the case.
After the updated report that a tiger and a hyena are still on the loose, the Ministry of Internal Affairs began a new search effort.
Meanwhile, Otar Tsukhishvili, the victim in the tiger attack, was sent to the morgue. Rion Buskivadze, the owner of one of the companies with warehouses in Laguna Vere, told journalists that Tsukhishivli was periodically coming to the warehouse and cleaning it for a certain salary. He said that today, the company BMC was doing some cleaning work in the warehouse and Tsukhishvili was there, but no-one knew there would be a tiger. He added that the warehouse is used to store food and chemicals for household use.
Interior Minister Vakhtang Gomelauri said that even though they had received a report that no more animals were on the loose, the MIA was still conducting a search, but with reduced resources.
He said that the area of today’s tragedy was searched several times, but the warehouse was closed. It has a gate and iron door and the place was filled with water, so it was impossible to go in.
“It is not clear how the tiger got in when the water level went down. People are working to determine that.”
He said that it is not possible that a tiger could go in from the outside, because of the gates and iron door.
“Considering this, it is not clear if we could have avoided it, despite this statement. Possibly we couldn’t have avoided it. Eight workers went inside to tidy up the place and it attacked one of them.”
Gurielidze left the Prosecutor General’s Office after two hours saying that there wasn’t talk of criminal responsibility. He said he informed investigators about how they counted the animals in the zoo.
“We didn’t discuss guilt, but what happened and how we determined the number, and that we thought one white tiger was dead turned out to be alive,” he said.
He continued saying that they were receiving information about dead and missing animals from different sources and when he summed up all the sources it seemed that all three white tigers were dead, but in the morning they discovered that one of them was still alive as there were two reports about the same animal’s death.
Gurielidze told DF Watch that one little tiger and one hyena are still missing, but the hyena is not a threat.
A rally was planned at 20:00 outside the government office to support Zurab Gurielidze.