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 Monday, 13 January, 2003, 10:33 GMT
Malaysian man goes missing with tiger
Malaysian tiger
Tigers are a national symbol in Malaysia

Wildlife authorities in the northern Malaysian state of Kedah are searching for a man who is reported to have gone missing with his family and his pet tiger.

He said that the tiger did not like being kept in a cage, so he took it for a 30-minute walk every day

The authorities said he is not only breaking the law by keeping a tiger without a licence, but could be putting himself in danger.

The missing businessman was photographed on Saturday driving around his home town with a full-grown tiger in the back of his jeep.

The man, Haji Zaitun Arshad, told reporters that the animal had been brought in from Thailand where it had been caught in a trap.

On the run

He said that the tiger did not like being kept in a cage, so he took it for a 30-minute walk every day.

However, a neighbour later said that Haji Zaitun had disappeared with his family and the tiger, after learning that the authorities wanted to speak to him.

If convicted of keeping a tiger without a licence, he faces a $4,000 fine, or up to five years in prison.

A spokesman for the Worldwide Fund for Nature in Malaysia said that a hungry tiger could be dangerous.

The 180-kilo (28-stone) animal needs to eat the equivalent of three chickens and three kilos of beef every morning and evening.

The tiger is a Malaysian national symbol, and there are strict laws protecting the 500 or 600 animals left in the wild here.

A row broke out in August after the chief minister of the state of Kelantan called for all tigers in the district to be shot following attack on a plantation worker.

See also:

22 Aug 02 | Asia-Pacific
15 Aug 02 | Asia-Pacific
23 Jul 02 | Asia-Pacific
03 Apr 02 | South Asia
27 Sep 01 | Science/Nature
08 Apr 02 | Science/Nature
29 Apr 02 | Country profiles
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