Hampshire police were alerted at about 16h00 on Saturday afternoon to the presence of a white tiger in a field in Hedge End, near Southampton on the south coast of England. The force quickly coordinated with a local zoo to arrange a tranquilliser dart, before enlisting a helicopter and team of police officers to help capture the animal.
Our friends up in the northern hemisphere are understandably a little tense at the moment and absolutely nothing out of the ordinary is going to go by unnoticed.
This however, is quite funny.
The force said that “several” members of the public were reporting the presence of a white tiger in a field in Hedge End, and this prompted the start of the rather large operation to catch the rare beast before it presumably went on to rapture nearby people or animals.
Details have emerged that one of the callers had even observed the predator through the zoom lens of his camera, and was convinced “the animal was real, and threatening.”
An unnamed officer was initially dispatched to the scene to confirm the animal was indeed present, and upon doing so, the operation was put into motion.
Officers proceeded to clear a nearby golf course and were prepared to close the M27 motorway should the tiger make a run for it. The scare also stopped play at the Rose Bowl cricket ground for 20 minutes.
A police spokeswoman offered the following to the media:
They gave us the option to dart and tranquillise the animal rather than destroy it.
After a brief stalk through the Hedge End savannah, the officer realised the tiger was not moving and the air support using their cameras realised there was a lack of heat source.
The tiger then rolled over in the down draught [of the helicopter] and it was at that point it became obvious it was a stuffed life-size toy.
On Sunday police released another photograph of the tiger.
A view of the beast from the chopper..
It is understood that the tranquilliser dart was not used in the operation as John Pullen, curator of mammals at Marwell Zoo explains:
We were moments away from making the journey when we received a call from police to say it was a stuffed toy.
Officers had been unable to confirm who the owner of the toy was, or been able to determine how it had come to be in a field in Hedge End.
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