Five Hurt After Tiger Breaks Free

by Rob MacKay
A police officer reportedly broke her back and four civilians suffered minor injuries last Saturday afternoon when a tiger escaped from a circus camp in Forest Park and went on a 20-minute stroll that ended with his capture in Glendale.
Police officers and trainer Cheryl Haddad try to coerce Apollo into his cage last Saturday, at Myrtle Avenue and 88th Lane in Glendale. The 450-pound Bengal tiger escaped from the New Cole Bros. Circus compound in Forest Park and went on a 20-minute expedition, causing multi-vehicle crashes on the Jackie Robinson Parkway and mad dashes by frightened picnickers. (photo: Jack Zwerenz)
Apollo, a 450-pound Bengal tiger with the New Cole Bros. Circus, slipped out of his cage during a transfer and headed south at around 1:05 p.m. The Florida-based circus was finishing a six-day stay at Forest Park.
Apollo first caused mass panic by prancing past a picnic hosted by Brooklyn’s Berean Missionary Baptist Church. The rare, white, seven-year-old feline then roamed toward the Jackie Robinson Parkway, which he probably entered around Myrtle Avenue.
With a sudden appearance in the westbound lane, Apollo caused two collisions involving a total of five vehicles before jumping on the hood of a car and exiting.
As part of a level one mobilization, armed officers from the NYPD Emergency Service Unit and other cops formed a perimeter near Myrtle Avenue and 88th Lane. Apollo was finally lured into his cage by a large piece of raw meat and his trainer, Cheryl Haddad, at about 1:30 p.m. He had traveled about one mile.
Detective Maureen O’Malley, who was driving to work at Brooklyn’s 63rd Precinct, was injured and taken to Jamaica Hospital Medical Center for a fractured back and a possible broken ankle. The four civilians, including one child, were taken to the same hospital and treated for minor injuries.
Cole Bros. was issued an Environmental Control Board summons for creating an animal nuisance. Trainer Haddad received a $100 fine from the NYC Parks Department for leaving an animal unattended.
A motorist on the Jackie Robinson Parkway makes a phone call after his car was totaled in a pileup initiated by the sudden appearance of a 450-pound Bengal tiger last Saturday. The big cat, named Apollo, had escaped from the New Cole Bros. Circus temporary grounds in Forest Park. (photo: Jack Zwerenz)
The show headed to Southampton, Long Island, on Monday, promising that their tigers—especially Apollo—would not perform.
Apollo is the same breed of tiger that mauled entertainer Roy Horn of Siegfried & Roy in Las Vegas, Nevada, last October.
Following the incident, Parks Department officials announced that they are considering banning Cole Bros. from city parks. State Senator Carl Kruger of Brooklyn, who has long claimed that Cole Bros. treats animals badly,
stepped up the pressure.
“Even if you were to be generous and allow one black mark against Cole Bros., they’ve already surpassed their limit,” he said in a press release.
Senator Kruger claimed that Cole Bros. encouraged a house cat to dive five stories onto a small pillow during a performance in Marine Park last month. And in 1995, twelve spectators at a Cole Bros. show in Forest Park were injured in a human stampede that began when two elephants started fighting.