Floodwaters washed out the Tbilis Zoo setting free lions, tigers, bears and hippos leaving them to wander the streets of the Georgian town.
Residents were warned to stay off the street Sunday after the floods ran through the centre of the capital. At least 12 people are reported dead with another two dozen missing, according to to Davit Narmania, the mayor of Tbilisi in news media reports.
“Not all the animals that fled from the zoo have been caught yet…Therefore I would ask the population to avoid moving around the city except in cases of acute need.
It was not immediately clear how many animals were on the loose and how many had been killed in the floods.
A usually burbling stream that feeds through a narrow gorge in parts of downtown Tbilisi turned into a raging torrent that burst its banks after heavy rains on Saturday night, local news reports said.
Images from the city underscored the animal anarchy — one showed a group of people herding a hippopotamus along a street choked with mud, after it had been hit by a tranquilizer dart.
A special police team was dispatched to the neighborhoods around the zoo to hunt for the roaming animals, according to local television reports.
Some of the animals were killed when they could not be captured, the report said, including six wolves found on the grounds of a children’s hospital as well as a bear and a hyena. Some residents expressed indignation at those killings, but officials said various animals were too aggressive to be captured.
One photo posted on an Indiegogo fundraiser showed passerbys herding a hippo down flood-ravaged streets.