Saturday, 21 May 2011

Hampshire 'tiger sighting' causes major alert

21 May 2011

A stuffed toy animal led to a large-scale police operation in Hampshire and stopped play at the Rose Bowl cricket ground.

The alarm was first raised by a concerned member of the public who believed there was an escaped white tiger hiding in a field near Hedge End.

Officers were sent to the scene along with a helicopter and thermal imaging cameras, at about 1600 BST on Saturday.

When no body heat was detected police moved in and found a cuddly toy tiger.

A police spokesperson said officers had responded as if it was a real incident, close to junction seven of the M27.

Contingency plans were even put in place to close the motorway, but that proved unnecessary.

Police enlisted the help from animal experts at nearby Marwell Zoo, who offered advice and were prepared to send a team with tranquiliser darts to overcome the tiger.

The Rose Bowl said a game between South Wiltshire and Hampshire Academy was stopped for about 20 minutes before they were given the all clear to continue.

Golfers at a nearby golf course were also told to go indoors.

Camera lens

"A member of the public reported seeing a tiger lying in a field in Hedge End.

"They had seen it through the zoom lens of a camera," a police spokesman said.

"We sent some local officers to the field and they confirmed they were looking at it and it was was looking at them.

"Everyone who had seen it, including the land owner, thought it was a real tiger."

The spokesman said although the police action could attract criticism about costs, the force would have been praised if it had been real.

"The safety of the public was the number one priority," he added.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-hampshire-13486698

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