Liberation - American Style

U.S. Soldier Shoots Tiger at Baghdad Zoo By SABAH JERGES Associated Press Writer September 20, 2003, 10:32 AM CDT BAGHDAD, Iraq -- A U.S. soldier shot and killed a tiger at the Baghdad zoo after it bit another soldier who had reached through the bars of its cage to feed it, a zoo security guard said Saturday. The soldiers had been drinking beer when they entered the zoo Thursday night after it closed, said the guard, Zuhair Abdul-Majeed. "He was drunk," Abdul-Majeed said of the bitten soldier. After the man was bit, the other American shot the tiger three times in the head and killed it, Abdul-Majeed told The Associated Press. It was impossible to reach the U.S. military spokesman's office because the telephones have not worked for three days. The zoo reopened July 20, three months after Baghdad was captured by the Americans. It had 1.5 million visitors in 2001 but hit hard times more recently. Saddam Hussein closed it for renovation last year, and it was scheduled to reopen on April 7 with a $27 million facelift. Instead, on that day, American troops were on the outskirts of Baghdad, and Iraqi fighters had booted the zookeepers from the park, setting up defensive positions among the cages. When zoo workers returned a week later, some animals lay dead in their cages, others had escaped when mortar rounds blasted open the bars, and yet others had been looted. Some wild animals roamed the park freely, including a bear that mauled and partially ate three civilians, and three lions that were shot to death when they tried to pounce on a contingent of invading American soldiers. Since then, the surviving animals have been nursed back to health, and more animals have been brought in from a small private zoo across town and from the private zoos found in the palaces of Saddam's family. Copyright © 2003, The Associated Press

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