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Last Updated: Sunday, 5 October, 2003, 15:46 GMT 16:46 UK
Tiger found in Harlem flat
Tiger pet in America
About 10,000 tigers are kept privately in the US
A US police sniper has accomplished a daring operation in an urban housing complex - sedating and removing a 350-pound (160 kg) Bengal tiger from a New York flat.

Police were alerted to go to the flat - in a 21-storey block in the Harlem area after the animal's owner, Antoine Yates, checked into hospital with bites he said were caused by a pit bull.

When they arrived at the scene, they found a three-to-five-foot-long (1-1.5m) caiman alligator as well.

The animals have been temporarily taken to an animal care centre.

Mr Yates was meanwhile arrested in Philadelphia and police said he would be charged with "reckless endangerment".


Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly said two callers had directed them to the exact address - and they had confirmed the existence of the orange-and-white tiger after cutting a hole through the door.

After evacuating the building, they trained a camera to observe the movement of the animal through a window and policeman Martin Duffy abseiled to the fifth floor with a tranquiliser gun.

This is an only-in-New-York story
Raymond Kelly
Police Commissioner

"I saw him eye to eye, to say the least," Mr Duffy was quoted as saying by the Associated Press news agency. "He charged twice and I shot him."

Police then went into the five-bedroom flat and tied the sedated tiger to a stretcher before carrying it away.

It was then they came across the caiman - and carried it away too.

"This is an only-in-New-York story," Commissioner Kelly said.

Police suspected Mr Yates of having kept the tiger in his flat since it was a cub.

It appears to have been one of an estimated 10,000 tigers kept by private citizens in America - that is more than remain in the wild.

The BBC's Duncan Kennedy
"No one had seen anything like it"

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