Appeal to trace tiger toy owner after police alert

Police picture of the toy from the helicopter A concerned member of the public contacted police believing the stuffed toy was a real tiger

Related Stories

Police are trying to trace the owner of a life-sized tiger toy which sparked a major police alert in Hampshire over fears a real animal was on the loose.

Officers were deployed and a helicopter was scrambled with specialist thermal imaging cameras over the field, near Hedge End, on Saturday afternoon.

The scare stopped play at the Rose Bowl cricket ground for 20 minutes.

Hampshire police said the toy was being treated as lost property but they were investigating whether it was a hoax.

They said they did not know how it got there but was similar to one which would be won at a fair.

Tranquiliser darts

The alarm was raised by a member of the public who spotted what they thought was an escaped white tiger hiding in a field, through a camera's zoom lens.

Officers said they had responded as if it was a real incident, close to junction seven of the M27.

Animal specialists at nearby Marwell Zoo were enlisted by police to offer advice and were prepared to send a team with tranquiliser darts to overcome the tiger.

The tiger The stuffed toy is being treated as lost property

John Pullen, curator of mammals, said: "We offered advice to the police and we immediately gathered a team of staff who have been trained to deal with situations such as this.

"We were moments away from making the journey when we received a call from police to say it was a stuffed toy."

Golfers at County Golf Club were also escorted from the course and Saturday's cricket game between Hampshire Academy and South Wilts was suspended for about half an hour.

Tony Middleton, Hampshire Cricket Academy director, added: "Rumours came round that there was a tiger on the golf course and we just carried on playing until a policeman came over and told us to clear the area.

"I assumed there was [a tiger] with everything that was going on, but we felt quite safe here."

Officers discovered it to be a stuffed toy after it rolled over in the down draft from the police helicopter.

"It is being treated as lost property but we don't know how it came to be in the field and whether it may have been a hoax.

"Police are keen to reiterate that they have a duty to protect the public and therefore take calls of this nature as serious as any other calls reporting potential dangers to members of the public," a spokeswoman said.

More on This Story

Related Stories

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites

BBC Hampshire & Isle of Wight

Weather

Southampton

Min. Night 9 °C

Features

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.