DALLAS — A veterinarian at the Dallas Zoo performed a necropsy Thursday on a female tiger found shot to death near an apartment complex, a zoo official said.
The tiger did not belong to the zoo and was believed to have been someone’s pet. It was found Christmas Day in a vacant lot near a busy interstate and an apartment complex, said zoo spokeswoman Susan Eckert.
The Department of Agriculture is investigating, Eckert said.
An unidentified caller phoned a city hotline on Christmas Day about a dead animal, Eckert said. A sanitation crew that arrived to clean it up found a full-grown tiger under a blue tarp.
“They knew this wasn’t a normal thing to find along the road, so they delivered it to the zoo,” Eckert said.
Zoo veterinarian Dr. Thomas Alvarado performed a necropsy, an autopsy for animals. He found five gunshot wounds, including one in the head and one in the thorax.
The tiger was nearly 6 feet long and weighed about 180 pounds. Zoo officials believe it is a Bengal tiger and was “fairly young,” Eckert said. It appeared to have been in good health before being shot, although it hadn’t eaten in about a day.
The tiger had all its teeth. Zoo officials said they believe it was someone’s pet because it was declawed and had a collar around its neck. It also had a leash that appeared to be a bicycle chain, Eckert said.
The zoo will store the tiger’s body until federal officials decide what to do with it, Eckert said.
Dead tiger found in Dallas
09:09 PM CST on Thursday, December 27, 2007
The Dallas Zoo’s veterinary staff spent Thursday examining a tiger found dead and wrapped in a bloody sheet in east Oak Cliff.
Sanitation workers responding to a call to the city’s service hotline on Christmas Day found the tiger’s body near Interstate 35 and Overton Road, city spokeswoman Danielle McClelland said.
The tiger had suffered at least five bullet wounds, including one through its heart.
The female Bengal tiger mix is estimated to be between 1 and 2 years old, 6 feet long and about 180 pounds. Bengal tigers are native to India and the surrounding Indian subcontinent.
The tiger was declawed, had a collar and a wire cable that may have served as a leash attached to it.
“It’s very disturbing,” said Chuck Siegel, the zoo’s deputy director of animal management. “It raises a lot of questions. Who is keeping a tiger and in what conditions in or near the city of Dallas?”
It is illegal for individuals to keep exotic animals within city limits.
Because the animal had been declawed, it’s likely that it had been to a veterinarian, Mr. Siegel said. There were no apparent signs of neglect or abuse.
“It looked like it was in good health,” he said.
Mr. Siegel said the tiger’s body was examined Thursday after zoo officials contacted the U.S. Agriculture Department’s Investigative and Enforcement Services division. Federal investigators will be on hand today to look into the case.
The tiger was found the same day a Siberian tiger was shot after it escaped its enclosure and attacked visitors at the San Francisco Zoo, killing one person and injuring two others.