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Monday, May 23, 2011

Toy tiger sparks police alert

Police are trying to trace the owner of a life-size toy tiger which sparked a major operation involving armed officers and a force helicopter.

The alert was raised after several members of the public spotted what they believed to be a live white tiger in a field near Hedge End, Southampton.

The police helicopter was scrambled and a golf course cleared after police arrived at the scene and confirmed the sighting.

Armed police were called to the scene and plans put in place to close the nearby M27 if necessary in case the tiger moved in that direction.

Specialist staff from nearby Marwell Zoo also attended to advise and potentially tranquilise the wild animal.

But as police officers carefully approached the "wild animal" they realised things were not quite what they seemed.

A spokeswoman for the force said: "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 draft and it was at that point it became obvious it was a stuffed life-size toy.

"This incident will definitely be the highlight of our day. The CCTV footage convinced us all we were dealing with a real tiger.

"It's not often an incident leaves our staff with a smile on their face and it just goes to show the diverse type of incident we are called to deal with."

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