Zoo officials quick to act as tiger attacked dog. - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Reported by Nick Paranjape

Zoo officials quick to act as tiger attacked dog.

When a 45 pound Shepard and Chow mix came face-to-face with a 200 pound Sumatran Tiger, it was a situation Memphis Zoo officials had never seen before.

It didn't take long for Brian Carter with the Memphis Zoo to hear about a dog being loose on the grounds.

"It was very surprising," Carter said.

Carter said the stray dog ran past security and ran past the rhinos, elephants and pandas.

"That's a very serious situation.  That's why we don't allow pets in the zoo because they're as unpredictable as the wild animals that are here," Carter said.

And no one could have predicted what happened next. The dog jumped over the visitor railing at the tiger exhibit, swam across the moat, and was quickly attacked by Rahtu, a Sumatran Tiger.

Herb Roberts, a curator with the zoo, saw the whole thing.

"She pounced on it promptly. Soon as its feet hit the shore she had it.  And she had it in a standard typical killing pose with a suffocating bite around the throat," Roberts said.

Roberts said the 200 pound Tiger is  five times stronger than a 200 pound man.

She could have easily killed the dog, but was distracted by a quick acting team of zookeepers.

"We had a team of people here that had noise makers, air horns, smoke to distract the tiger from the dog," Carter said.

Once the Tiger was distracted it went into the night-house. That is when zookeepers grabbed the wounded dog.

"I think this was a good example about how quickly we responded to the incident all of our staff right here working on it and we have a happy ending," Carter said.

Zoo officials said they do practice drills on how to rescue people from animal exhibits, but never practice rescuing pets.

The dog is alive, but recovering from puncture wounds at the Animal Emergency Center. 


Click here to e-mail Nick Paranjape.

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