By DANIEL BATES
Top cat: The Houston Fire Department received several calls Wednesday about a tiger on the roof of an abandoned hotel, though it turned out to be a stuffed toy
When the calls came in saying an escaped tiger was on the loose, everyone knew it was serious.
Dozens of people dialled 911 after seeing the eight-foot long animal perched on top of an abandoned hotel, apparently pausing in the middle of its hunt.
But when fire-fighters went in for a closer look, they discovered that it was actually rather more tame - because it was a life-sized stuffed toy.
Cat on a hot tin roof: The tiger was on the roof of an abandoned hotel in Houston, Texas
Rather than snarling and leaping at them, the vicious predator merely fell from its ledge to the floor with a gentle tug.
At least one fire truck and six firemen were involved in the ‘rescue’ in Houston, Texas, including two men on a cherry picker who were sent up to try and talk the tiger down. A video posted on YouTube shows them carefully inching towards the beast, which had one paw dangling over the side and its head tilted so it appeared to have just been startled.
When they realised it posed no threat, they then pulled it off with a large hooked stick so it fell to the floor where their colleagues picked it up and held it by the neck as if it were a trophy.
One fire-fighter even played with it as if he was being attacked.
Dramatic rescue: Two men on a cherry-picker helped 'rescue' the tiger
It isn't real? A Houston firefighter looks confused as he realises the tiger belongs at a toy store, not a zoo
Perks of the job: Onlooking fire-fighters record the rescue on their phones. They had to remove the big cat because it posed a risk to drivers, who would rubberneck when they saw a tiger on the roof
It is not clear how the tiger ended up on the ledge of the abandoned hotel, but fire crews said it had to be removed as drivers were slowing down to look at it, potentially causing an accident.
Real life animal escapes are rare - but deadly when they happen.
Last year dozens of pack animals were shot dead after their owner opened their cages before killing himself in Zanesville, Ohio.
I've got him: A fire-fighter looks amused as he holds the toy tiger after his co-worker knocked it from the roof
Job well done: The firefighters take the tiger away after one pretended to be attacked by the creature
Tigers, wolves, mountain lions, cheetahs and bears up to 300lbs in size were all hunted down by police as they roamed the rural town.
Some of the animals were thought to have eaten each other as families stayed in their homes for fear of being attacked.
Real life tigers are among the most deadly predators on Earth and can grow to 11ft long and weigh 700lbs.
In 2007 17-year-old Carlos Sousa Jr. was killed and two others injured when two 350lbs Siberian tigers escaped their cage at San Francisco zoo and rampaged through the crowd.
Real animals on the loose: Police killed dozens of animals, including this lion, last October after they escaped from the wild-animal preserve in Ohio
Friday, January 20, 2012
Six daredevil firefighters race to rescue big cat stuck on hotel roof ... only to discover it's an 8ft stuffed toy
By DANIEL BATES