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Helicopters and armed police were called out to an area of Kent on Saturday morning (2 May) after someone reported seeing a tiger, that turned out to be a 20-year-old sculpture.
Juliet Simpson, 85, had created the lifesize piece out of chicken wire and resin about 20 years ago. Worried locals had told authorities they had seen a big cat roaming the small village of Ightham.
Juliet, who has laughed off the situation after 'introducing' police to her model tiger, was first alerted to the commotion by her son.
Her grandaughter shared the images on Twitter:
My Granny is a sculptress. Today 10 armed police and a helicopter were called to her house after walkers reported a tiger in the woods. This is the tiger. pic.twitter.com/Kn21npZPiS
- Martha (@marthasimpson__) May 2, 2020
Speaking to The Guardian, Juliet said: "My son Duncan rang up and said there were armed police on the hill leading up to my house. Ten of them! By then I could see the helicopter above, and I thought, goodness me. So then I walked up the road and saw the police Land Rover. I went up and said: 'Do you want to be introduced to this tiger?'"
Juliet says she's never had a problem before, with the sculpture placed around 30 metres from the public footpath, with one police officer reportedly telling her that Netflix series Tiger King could have been playing on people's minds.
It might not be that much of an 'out there' concern, given that as LADbible discovered, there are more than 4,800 wild animals being kept in the UK as pets.
Police stayed with Juliet for about 10 or 20 minutes, explaining they had to respond to public concerns. Juliet said: "They liked the model and said they thought it was very lifelike."
She added: "There have been dogs who have been alarmed by it but no serious fears. Some people may have had a moment of thinking it's a real tiger.
"So many people have so little real knowledge of how animals behave in the countryside. Any escaped cat of any sort would be in a state of terror, and would not be basking in the sun, amiably looking up at the nearest footpath."
She had originally made the tiger and had planned on selling it but later changed her mind. She said: "When I put him in the wood he sort of owned it, and soon became a landmark."
Kent Police said they were called to Mote Road at 10.23am on Saturday morning after receiving a report from a member of the public who said they had seen a 'large wild cat'.
A spokesperson for the force said: "Officers, including armed officers, attended as a precaution and, following a search of the area, have established there was no animal and no risk to the public. The national police air service did briefly attend the scene."
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