'Tiger' alert proves a toy story
A police helicopter was scrambled and a golf course cleared after a white tiger was spotted in a field by members of the public - only to turn out to be a stuffed toy.
At 4pm on Saturday, Hampshire police received several calls reporting sightings of the tiger in a field near Hedge End, Southampton. The police support helicopter was scrambled and specialist staff from nearby Marwell Zoo were called in to advise and potentially tranquillise the wild animal.
But as police officers carefully approached the dangerous animal they realised it was not moving and the helicopter crew, using thermal imaging equipment, realised there was no heat source coming from it.
A spokeswoman for the force said: "After a brief stalk through the Hedge End savannah, the officer realised the tiger was not moving and the air support using their cameras realised there was a lack of heat source.
"The tiger then rolled over in the down draft and it was at that point it became obvious it was a stuffed life-size toy.
"This incident will definitely be the highlight of our day. The CCTV footage convinced us all we were dealing with a real tiger.
"It's not often an incident leaves our staff with a smile on their face and it just goes to show the diverse type of incident we are called to deal with."
A local golf course was evacuated and plans were put in place to close the nearby M27 motorway if necessary in case the tiger moved in that direction.