2003-09-23 14:05:10 UTC
Sapa-AFP, 20/09/2003 18:26
Bagdad - An American soldier shot and killed a rare Bengal tiger in
Baghdad zoo during an apparently drunken party, the head of the zoo
said on Saturday.
"The soldiers arrived in the evening with food and beer, accompanied
by a group of Iraqi police officers," Adel Salman Musa said of the
incident on Thursday night.
"One of the soldiers, who the Iraqi police said had drunk a lot, went
into the cage against the advice of his colleagues and tried to feed
the animal, who severely hurt his arm," he explained to AFP.
The tiger tore off one of the soldier's fingers and mauled his arm.
One of the other soldiers immediately fired at the animal and killed
it, he said.
"The soldiers don't have the right to behave like that. That was the
most precious and valuable animal in the whole zoo. It was 14 years
old and had been born here," Salman Musa said.
The Bengal tiger is an endangered species which is protected by the
Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna
and Flora (CITES) and the World Conservation Union (IUCN).
There are only 3 000-4 500 of these creatures left in the wild.
Salman Musa said US soldiers often held parties in the zoo in the
evenings. "We have no way of stopping them," he said.
US Sergeant Mark Ingham confirmed to AFP that an American soldier had
killed the tiger on Thursday and said the incident was being
Baghdad zoo reopened to the public in July.
It houses 44 animals other than the prized tiger, most of which came
from the palaces of deposed leader Saddam Hussein and his late son
Uday, who was a lover of big cats.
A number of its animals were stolen in the confusion that followed the
US-lead war. Most were killed for food or were stuffed and sold.