Screengrab via Reuters

Heavy rains overnight led to massive flooding in Tbilisi, the capital of Georgia, and left at least 12 dead and an unknown number of escaped zoo animals wandering free.

According to the Associated Press, lions, tigers, bears, wolves, and hippos fled The Tbilisi Zoo after their enclosures were destroyed in the flooding. The Washington Post reports that parts of the zoo remain underwater, and that the local government has asked Tbilisi residents to remain at home until the mess is sorted out. UPI notes that the flooding has left several people homeless.

Videos from Reuters and the Press Association show the extent of the damage:


The scene, as described by the Post:

The hippopotamus swam out of its enclosure and onto the central Heroes’ Square, eating leaves off a tree before being shot with a tranquilizer dart in front of a Swatch store…At least one lion and one bear were shot and killed by police officers, and a hyena chased a security guard across part of a university campus before it, too, was shot dead.


Three of the 12 killed in the disaster were employees of the zoo.

Images show dead animals in the flooded street:


In a televised statement, Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili said, "these floods are something we have never seen before… It's a terrible situation in the capital. We are mobilizing the municipality and the police."

Danielle Wiener-Bronner is a news reporter.