The capital of Georgia has been placed on lockdown after heavy flooding destroyed enclosures at the city’s zoo allowing tigers, lions, jaguars, wolves, jackals and a hippo to escape and roam the streets.
Residents in Tbilisi have been warned to stay indoors after more than 30 dangerous animals became free from the zoo after heavy rain and wind.
The flash floods have already killed up to 12 people including three workers who are employed at Tbilisi Zoo.
The zoo said one of the dead was Guliko Chitadze, a zookeeper who lost an arm in an attack by a tiger last month. The husband of zookeeper Ms Chitadze also died in the flooding.
Some of the animals have been seized but it is unclear how many are still on the loose.
Eight bears and 20 wolves are also among the animals who fled from their enclosures as well as six tigers and six lions.
It has also been reported that six wolves were killed after they were found near to a children’s hospital and a video showed locals trying to save an escaped bear.
Tbilisi Zoo spokeswoman Mzia Sharashidze said: ‘Search for animals continues, but a large part of the zoo is simply non-existent. It was turned into a hellish whirlpool.
‘Some 20 wolves, eight lions, white tigers, tigers, jackals, jaguars have either been shot dead by special forces or are missing. Only three out of our 17 penguins were saved.’
Pictures from the Georgian capital have shown a large hippo wandering along a main street among stranded cars and in the city’s main square.
The zoo’s press service said that the hippo was eventually cornered in the main square before it was subdued with a tranquiliser gun.
Helicopters are now circling the city, which is home to around 1.1million people in a bid to track down all of the animals.
Heavy rains and wind hit Tbilisi last night, turning a normally small stream that runs through the hilly city into a surging river. The flooding also damaged dozens of houses.
City mayor David Narmania told journalists that eight people were known to have died and 10 others were missing.
It is estimated that the floods have caused £6.5million worth of damage.
Vice mayor of Tbilisi Irakly Lekvinadze added: ‘Dozens of families remain homeless as their houses were destroyed or damaged in the capital.’