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22 Dec, 2009 17:33

Eight tigers, lioness die in transit to Siberian circus

Eight Indian tigers and an African lioness have died while being carried by a truck to a circus in Yakutsk, East Siberia. Police said the animals were poisoned by the vehicle’s exhaust.

The nine animals belonged to the Mechta circus from Krasnoyarsk, about 3800 kilometers from the destination point of Yakutsk. According to RIA Novosti news agency, they were carried by a Russian-made Kamaz truck, along with one more animal, a Himalayan snow-bear. The transport arrived safely in the city of Khabarovsk on the Russian Pacific coast, and started to Yakutsk. Upon arrival, the circus staff found that the big cats were all dead.

Local police have said that they are performing a forensic examination to establish the exact cause of death, but according to preliminary estimations, the animals were poisoned by carbon monoxide in the truck’s exhaust.

The bear was also poisoned but survived the journey.

The police source added that the circus team who should have taken care of the transported animals were instead found to be drinking at the time.