Former circus tiger shot and killed in Henry County, Georgia neighborhood

Hours after a tiger rummaged through a Henry County neighborhood, attacked a dog and was shot and killed by police, local and state authorities found its owner, the Atlanta Journal Constitution (AJC) reported last Wednesday.

Feld Entertainment, Inc. said a circus presenter owned Suzy, the 6-year-old Bengal tiger that managed to escape from the fleet, spokesman Stephen Payne told AJC. The tiger’s owner, Alexander Lacey, was contracted to work with Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey Circus.

The Department of Natural Resources said Feld Entertainment, which was transporting the animal, reported the tiger missing from a shipment traveling from Florida to Tennessee.

“The truck had stopped in Georgia during the overnight hours and during that stop the female Bengal tiger managed to escape unnoticed,” DNR spokesman Mark McKinnon said in a news release. “(The company) discovered that she was missing when the truck arrived at the destination.”

McKinnon said officials found a microchip in the tiger that matched a number for the entertainment company, which touts itself as “the worldwide leader in producing and presenting live touring family entertainment experiences,” according to its website.

Feld Entertainment ran Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey Circus for 146 years before its last show in May.

The 14 tigers on board the truck were all owned by Lacey and were the last to be shipped from a property in Tampa that housed the animals after the circus closed, Payne said. The tigers, originally from Great Britain, were headed to a Tennessee airport where they would fly to Germany, he said. The company is not releasing where in Tennessee the tigers were being transported.

Payne said the surviving 13 tigers are healthy and in good care. Authorities have not filed charges against the company or Lacey.

Suzy first sent residents into a frenzy about 6 a.m. Authorities received at least two 911 calls from people who spotted her near the ramp from I-75 North to Jodeco Road and near a home in the area, Henry police Capt. Joey Smith said.

Officers later found the big cat and alerted animal control officials.

“Unfortunately, it jumped a fence and went after a dog back behind one of the residences here,” Smith said. “And the officers had to use some force to put the tiger down.”

Officers weren’t equipped with tranquilizers and came across the Bengal tiger before animal control authorities arrived, Smith said.

Brittney Speck, who owns the dog in the incident, said she woke up to high beams and other lights flashed on by officers in the area.

“My dog was also going crazy in the backyard,” Speck said.

When she went to her back window to check on her Dachshund named Journey, she saw the tiger in her neighbor’s yard along the side nearest her yard and called 911. Soon after, the tiger jumped on her dog, Speck said.

“And the officers I guess just started firing rounds and took it down and then gave me my dog back,” Speck said. The dog is OK. Speck is thankful her three young children weren’t outside at the time.

See also 7 Tigers, 6 Lions & 1 Leopard discovered in a barn in Arkansas

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