A circus owner who killed a female tiger he raised from a cub said the animal escaped to the streets of Paris after someone “maliciously” cut the lock on the animal’s cage.
Eric Bormann, an owner of the Bormann-Moreno circus, fatally shot the 450-pound tiger named Mevy near the Eiffel Tower on Friday. Furious animal rights advocates posted gruesome photos of the dead tiger on social media and called for a boycott of circuses using animals.
Bormann, who is also the lion tamer and ringmaster of the circus, told AFP that no animal had previously escaped in the circus’ 40 years of existence because of a security system that uses cages within another enclosure. But one enclosure was open and the lock was cut on another when Mevy escaped, he said.
“We suspect a malicious act,” said Bormann, who bottle-fed Mevy as a cub. “There was a chain with a padlock, and the chain was cut.”
He added: “I’m the one who takes care of my tigers. There is a whole security protocol to respect with big cats. If an animal escapes ... it remains locked. It is a cage within a cage.”
He said he ruled out using a tranquilizer dart on the big cat when he shot his tiger because sedatives take too long to work and a tiger can pose a danger to people nearby until it drops.
The circus expressed “terrible sadness” at the loss of Mevy, who was just 18 months old. “We are devastated,” the circus said on its Facebook page. “The love of animals is the heart of our profession.”
All nine of the tigers of Bormann-Moreno were born in the circus. “We offer them a quality of care that we are proud of, while the tiger is an endangered species in the wild,” said the statement.
Bormann was detained and questioned at length by Paris police. But he is now demanding an investigation into who cut the lock on Mevy’s cage.
The circus planned to begin its shows Dec. 3.
Warning: Some readers may find the image below disturbing.