PM Irakli Garibashvili has apologized for “spreading inaccurate information” two days ago when he announced that not a single animal from flooded Tbilisi zoo remained on the loose.
He, however, also said that he was relying on information provided by the administration of the zoo and told chief prosecutor to launch investigation.
PM’s apology came after a white tiger, which escaped from the zoo following the flooding, attacked and killed a man in a warehouse located close to the Heroes’ Square in the center of Tbilisi on June 17. The tiger was shot by the police.
“My statement was based on the information provided by the emergency [response] headquarters [established after the flood in Tbilisi] and the latter was relying on the information provided by the administration of zoo that wild animals were not in the city and posed no threat to the people. But of course I feel very saddened and I want to apologize before the public for spreading this inaccurate information – although the source of the information was the zoo administration and its director [Zurab Gurielidze ], who told the emergency [response] headquarters and the interior ministry for multiple times that animals were not outside [of the zoo],” Garibashvili said.
“But regardless of what kind of information director of the zoo provides us, we should ascertain how many animals are dead or found; if the director of the zoo needs help, I instruct you to help him with counting how many animals remain unaccounted for,” the PM said.
He made the remarks in live televised meeting with senior officials, among them Secretary of the State Security and Crisis Management Council Mindia Janelidze, Interior Minister Vakhtang Gomelauri; Chief Prosecutor Giorgi Badashvili and Tbilisi Mayor Davit Narmania.
Addressing chief prosecutor, PM Garibashvili said: “I want to call on you to launch investigation of this case.”
“I want objective truth to be established in order to rule out any speculation and question,” Garibashvili told chief prosecutor Giorgi Badashvili.
Badashvili told the PM that the investigation had already been opened under the clause of criminal code, which deals with “negligence of official duties.”
Fatal attack by the tiger in the Tbilisi center occurred about 24 hours after Secretary of the State Security and Crisis Management Council Mindia Janelidze said on June 16 that there were no animals on the loose and “wild animals pose no threat to the people.” A similar statement was also made late on June 15 by PM Irakli Garibashvili.
But a spokesperson of the zoo, Mzia Sharashidze, told journalists on June 16 that at least one tiger, as well as a striped hyena and a bear were remaining unaccounted for.