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White Bengal Tiger on the Loose, Spreads Mass Panic in Italy

Jan 30, 2017 08:40 AM EST
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Oxford Circus incident: Police evacuate area amid reports of 'gunshots'

A white Bengal tiger from a visiting Swedish circus has escaped, spreading mass panic in Italy.

Reports said the white Bengal tiger named Oscar roamed the streets of Palermo in Sicily for hours before finally being captured by the local traffic police. They coaxed it to go inside a series of increasingly smaller cages. ABC News said Monreale Mayor Piero Capizzi thought they were joking when he was told a tiger was on the loose.

Metro UK reported that the town was home to approximately 38,000 people, but no one was hurt during the brief incident. The tiger will once again perform for the circus this week. Police are still questioning the circus over the incident.

World Wild Life notes that the Panthera tigris, popularly known as the Bengal tiger, is one of the largest species of tigers in the world. They are excellent hunters that feed on animals as big as a deer, hogs and buffalos.

They are currently threatened by illegal wildlife trade, habitat loss and conflict with humans. In the wild, they are known to live in both areas of desert and the grasslands/forests where it is wet and cool. At present, there are only at least 2,500 of Bengal tigers left in the wild, which are spread across India, Bangladesh, Nepal, Bhutan, China and Myanmar.

White Bengal tigers are of mixed Bengal/Amur ancestry. Because of their unique and beautiful appearance -- white and cream colored fur, pink nose and blue eyes - most of them are held captive. Tigers World said that while there have also been reports of Bengal tigers killing and eating humans, most tigers avoid humans and this doesn't happen regularly.

The Wildlife Protection Society of India and other wildlife organization are currently pushing their efforts to confiscate large number of tigers being poached and shipped for purposes of captivity and entertainment such as those in the circus.

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