Europe

'Paris tiger': Big cat loose near French capital - report

  • 13 November 2014
  • From the section Europe
Media captionCedric Tartaud, Montevrain mayor's office: "If it's a young tiger, maybe approximately 70kg… maybe it's afraid" - photo courtesy Julie Berdeaux

Police, fire officials and a specially-trained hunting dog are searching for a big cat - believed to be a tiger - seen in a town outside Paris.

A woman alerted officials after spotting the animal in a supermarket car park in Montevrain, east of the French capital.

Officers armed with tranquiliser guns have been combing countryside outside the town, helped by a helicopter.

Residents of Montevrain and two other towns have been told to stay indoors.

As darkness fell, the Montevrain council said on its Facebook page that the search had been called off for the night but local schools would be secured by 08:00 on Friday.

During the day, children were kept in schools and collected by their parents by car.

It was unclear where the animal came from, though there is a big cat park near Montevrain.

The owner of the lntermarche supermarket in Montevrain said his wife had spotted the animal at about 08:30 (07:30 GMT).

Image caption Police with tranquiliser guns have been searching a wood in Montevrain
Image caption The police have called in animal experts to try to track down the big cat
Image caption Armed police are on the streets of Montevrain as the search continues

"She didn't get out of the car and called me to say 'I think I saw a lynx'," he was quoted as saying. The woman took a photograph that appears to show a large cat.

The helicopter was equipped with a thermal detector to try to spot the animal in the undergrowth.

A wolf catcher with a specially trained dog was also part of the search team, authorities in Montevrain and Seine-et-Marne said.

Le Parisien newspaper said several local residents had sighted the animal.

Specialists said the animal's tracks were those of a young tiger. An official from the mayor's office said they had been able to trace the animal to the woodland by following its prints.

The Montevrain mayor's office dismissed the idea that the tiger could have escaped from a circus that was in the town until Saturday, Le Parisien reported.

EuroDisney, which operates nearby Disneyland Paris, said it kept no tigers.