These photos might look like something from a gritty Jumanji reboot, but events in the Georgian capital of Tbilisi in the last few days have been no laughing matter.
Residents of the city, with a population of 1.1 million, have been warned to stay indoors after heavy flooding destroyed enclosures at the nearby zoo and allowed tigers, lions, bears, wolves and a variety of other animals to escape.
Three zoo workers have been reported dead, and news agencies are stating that at least nine people have died in the floods. One of the zookeepers killed is a man named Guliko Chitadze, who lost an arm in a tiger attack last month.
On Sunday morning, the zoo’s press service revealed that an esaped hippopotamus had been cornered in one of the city’s main square and was being subdued with tranquiliser darts. Some of the animals have been captured by police while others, those deemed an immediate threat to public safety, were shot dead.
A journalist based in Tbilisi, by the name of Paul Rimple, told news sources that the zoo estimates around half of its 600 mammals, fish and birds escaped their enclosures following heavy rain and high winds. Nobody, however, can clarify exactly how many animals are still on the loose.
When asked for his thoughts on the matter, Rimple had this to say, “It’s so surreal. Helicopters are circling overhead and they’ve warned people to stay indoors but not everyone’s doing that.”
“People are walking around with their babies just a few blocks from where a wolf was shot in the south of the city. Apparently a jaguar was reported in the north,” he added.
This is one of those news stories that usually happens in nightmares but which, through an unfortunate turn of events, has become a fully-fledged reality for the people of Tbilisi. We hope everyone, both the humans and animals involved, can come out of this unscatched. It’s a crazy situation, and certainly one to keep an eye on in the coming days.