Tiger Captured After Escape From Florida Sanctuary

A Bengal tiger that escaped from its cage at a sanctuary was tranquilized and captured Wednesday morning, authorities said.

The adult tiger was last seen by caretakers at McCarthy's Wildlife Sanctuary about 11 p.m. Tuesday, said Gabriella Ferraro, a spokeswoman for the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.

Authorities had warned residents in the area Wednesday morning to remain indoors while they searched for the cat. Three schools also were put on lock-down.

Ferraro said the tiger was captured at about 11 a.m. Wednesday on the sanctuary grounds. It was tranquilized and put back in its cage.

A lion also escaped its cage at the sanctuary sometime overnight but was quickly captured, authorities said.

A person who answered the telephone Wednesday at the sanctuary said they wouldn't talk and abruptly hung up.

The facility is located about 20 miles northwest of West Palm Beach. It houses about 90 animals, including one lion, six tigers, five cougars and five leopards.

Fish and Wildlife officials last inspected the facility on Jan. 29 and found no problems, except for an unlocked venomous reptile cage, according to the agency.

"The sanctuary has a good record with the FWC," said the agency's Capt. John West.

FWC officers were investigating how the animals got free.

In 2004, a 600-pound tiger named Bobo escaped from the nearby five-acre home of Steve Sipek, who once played Tarzan in movies of the same name.

A wildlife officer eventually shot and killed the cat after 26 hours on the loose.

That shooting set off a public outcry and led to at least five death threats aimed at the state FWC.

An agency report later found the officer used sound judgment and complied with the agency's guidelines when he shot the Bengal-Siberian tiger. However, the report also noted that the officer's lack of training in dealing with big cats, his proximity to the animal and a tranquilizer team's delay in getting to the scene factored into the cat's death.

At the time, Sipek and others complained that killing the cat was unnecessary.