A CIRCUSS boss has claimed a caged tiger was deliberately set free before it was shot dead to protect the public.
Eric Bormann claimed someone had cut the padlocks on its cage before it escaped.
He stopped short of accusing animal rights activists but the animal’s release had tragic consequences.
The 200kg female tiger named Mevy had to be shot dead on the streets of Paris in France by Mr Bormann.
The animal was wandering through the 15th arrondissement in the southwest of the city when it was spotted.
Mr Bormann was getting ready to open his family run circus for the Christmas season in the district.
Mr Bormann said: “If a beast escapes, which has never happened in the 40 years I have been in Paris, it remains locked in.
“It is a cage within a cage. We suspect a malicious act.”
He said that he was unable to use a sedative dart because it would have taken too long for Mevy to lose consciousness, which would have put the public at risk.
He rejected allegations that circuses mistreat animals such as Mevy, who was 18 months old and had been born in the circus and bottle-fed by him as a cub.
Animal rights activists claimed the incident showed the need for France to join 13 other members of the EU, not including Britain, that have banned animals from circuses.
The Brigitte Bardot Foundation criticised the mayor of Paris, for ignoring pleas.
“You must react immediately to ban this exploitation of wild animals which reduces them to slavery,” a spokesman said.