SINGAPORE, Sept. 4 -- A 14-month-old tiger was shot dead after it escaped from an enclosure in the Singapore Zoological Gardens and wandered into a public area, officials said Wednesday. 'It was sad, but it had to be done,' the zoo's executive director Bernard Harrison said. 'If there is any doubt about public safety, we'll put the animal down.' No visitors or staff were hurt during the incident, which occurred while the zoo was open around 8 p.m. Monday. Zoo officials said keepers had to kill the animal with a shotgun because it was beyond the range of tranquilizer guns and appeared ready to jump a fence at the edge of the zoo when it was found. 'There are 2,000 acres of forest out there,' Harrison said. 'If he jumped out, it would be really difficult to recapture him.' Harrison and other zoo personnel said they were baffled as to how 'Giggo,' the 4.6 foot-long (1.4 meter-long) 75 kg. (165 lb.) Malayan tiger, could have escaped from his enclosure. The tiger exhibit is protected by a moat 33 feet (10 meters) wide bordered by a wall 15 feet (4.5 meters) high. An adult tiger can normally jump a flat distance of only 23 feet (7 meters). A zoo keeper said he was startled Monday evening to see Giggo roaming along a trail normally used by visitors. After the official rushed to a nearby ticket booth to radio for help, 15 more keepers arrived armed with a shotgun and tranquilizer gun.
Minutes later they found the young tiger chasing a herd of ankole, a type of African cattle, in their enclosure. 'The plan was to sedate the tiger and put him back in his enclosure, ' Harrison said, adding Giggo did not appear aggressive at the time. The keepers, however, could not get within the tranquilizer gun's range of five to six meters of the tiger and decided to kill when they noticed the animal was eyeing the seven foot (2.1 meter) fence separating the zoo from the rest of Singapore, a densely populated island city-state. A keeper felled the animal with two shotgun blasts to its head. Officials have closed the park's two tiger exhibits until they determine how the tiger escaped. With Giggo's death, the zoo has 17 tigers left.