Hampshire & Isle of Wight

'Tiger' police swoop caught on force helicopter video

Video footage has been released of the moment a police helicopter swooped in on a life-sized tiger toy believing it to be an animal on the loose.

Officers were deployed and a helicopter was scrambled to a field close to junction seven of the M27, near Hedge End, Hampshire, on Saturday.

The scare even stopped play at the Rose Bowl cricket ground and golfers were escorted from County Golf Club.

Police realised it was a toy when it blew over in the helicopter down draft.

Hampshire Constabulary is investigating whether the incident was a hoax and wants to trace the owner.

A concerned member of the public had raised the alarm after spotting what they thought was an escaped white tiger.

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.

Image caption The stuffed toy is being treated as lost property

Officers said they did not know how the toy got there but it was similar to one that would be won at a fair.

Saturday's cricket game between Hampshire Academy and South Wilts was suspended for about half an hour when police cleared the area.

They were later give the all clear to continue.

Contingency plans were also put in place to close the motorway, but that proved unnecessary.

A Hampshire Constabulary spokeswoman said it became "obvious it was a stuffed life-size toy" when it rolled over in the down draft of the Sussex Police helicopter, which had been scrambled to assist the Hampshire force.

She added: "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."

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