Thieves in Canada steal tiger, camels by accident

TORONTO Sat Jun 19, 2010 3:16am IST

TORONTO (Reuters) - A "delightful" Bengal tiger named Jonas, and two camels named Todd and Sean, have gone missing in eastern Canada after thieves drove off with the truck and trailer in which they were traveling.

The three animals, en route to the Bowmanville Zoo on the outskirts of Toronto, were stolen, along with the vehicles, after their driver stopped for the night in the French-speaking province of Quebec, zoo director Michael Hackenberger said.

"Our concern is that the animals were last watered at 11 o'clock at night (0400 GMT) and so that's over 12 hours ago, and the fact that it's turning into a very hot day up here in Canada means that unless the trailer is appropriately ventilated they could absolutely be compromised," Hackenberger told Reuters.

Speaking by cell phone as he raced toward Quebec with medical supplies for when the animals are found, he added: "It's like an amber alert, the longer it lasts the less likely you are to get the animals back."

Hackenberger described all three animals as "delightful" and friendly, and said the camels, used as ride animals at the zoo, were like good-natured horses.

He said Jonas, who weighs in at around 400 pounds (180 kg), was trained and friendly and was locked behind several doors in an internal cage in the trailer.

"But he is still a tiger," he cautioned.

The animals could die of dehydration unless they get water soon, he said.

Hackenberger said he did not believe thieves had targeted the animals, and the region where the trailer was stolen has had other similar vehicle thefts. "I don't think the thieves had any clue about what was inside," he said. (Reporting by Pav Jordan)

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