Tbilisi shoots predators

Tbilisi shoots predators

Heavy rainfall on Sunday night in the capital of Georgia led to disastrous consequences: the small River Vere, which residents of Tbilisi fondly used to call Vera, burst its banks and flooded several neighborhoods, completely destroying the highway that connected the center with the Saburatlo district.

According to preliminary information, 8 people have died and about 20 are considered missing. Dozens of families have been left homeless. Water destroyed their homes and personal plots on the banks of the Vera River.

According to experts, the main reason for the tragedy is that a few years ago, during the construction of the motorway from the city center towards the Saburtalo district, builders diverted the natural course of the river through a special tunnel, which at the critical moment could not let the increased volume of water through. 

In addition to the loss of people and destruction of homes, the most disastrous result of the flood was the complete destruction of the famous Tbilisi Zoo, located near the ill-fated river. According to the Interior Ministry, hundreds of animals were killed, and dozens of predators swam out of the territory to the center of the city and residential areas. In particular, according to the administration, 6 lions, 5 tigers and 13 wolves have escaped from the zoo. After receiving this information, the authorities decided to use heavy equipment in the streets, raising the alarm of the special purpose Interior Ministry and Defense Ministry military units. Hundreds of soldiers in camouflage uniforms holding machine guns are searching the central streets, going into each yard and looking into cellars.

Soon it became known that one of the tigers was shot on Heroes' Square. On the same square residents surrounded the hippo and they managed to drive him to the territory of the former zoo. We constantly see reports that lions, tigers and wolves are being sighted in the most unexpected places. In particular, we note that a tiger was seen near the Kote Marjanishvili Academic Theatre, and one of the lions was on Melikishvili Avenue, close to the main Concert Palace of the country. In addition, social media have published photos of a huge crocodile on one of the embankments of the River Kura.

Several non-governmental organizations and the zoo administration made a statement about the inadmissibility of hunting the animals. But in an atmosphere of common panic and social disaster, it is difficult to follow all the rules. Security officials complain that they do not have enough special equipment to neutralize the animals, and put them to sleep. Although in some cases, employees of the Tbilisi mayor’s office managed to use syringes in order to anaesthetise herbivorous animals which had escaped from the enclosure. But it is dangerous to put lions and tigers to sleep with syringes. That is why special mission units are using machine guns and sniper rifles. Apparently, there is no other choice in the current situation, as the situation is considered to be extremely dangerous: dozens of hungry predators are in the center of the megapolis.  

Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili held a meeting with the heads of the security agencies and told reporters that the possibility of introducing a state of emergency in the capital is not being considered, although Tbilisi residents were strongly advised to stay at home and not to go out unnecessarily. In fact, the Georgian capital is paralyzed, because the water has destroyed roads at several main transport crossings.