Money was paid for return of tiger, camels, but zoo won't say if it was ransom

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An undisclosed amount of money was paid to return a Bengal tiger and two camels to an Ontario zoo after a truck carrying them was stolen, it was revealed Wednesday.

Zoo director Michael Hackenberger said an "indeterminate amount of money" had been given to get Jonas the tiger, and camels Shawn and Todd, back. He would not comment further, citing an ongoing police investigation.

Bowmanville, Ont. -

An undisclosed amount of money was paid to return a Bengal tiger and two camels to an Ontario zoo after a truck carrying them was stolen, it was revealed Wednesday.

Zoo director Michael Hackenberger said an "indeterminate amount of money" had been given to get Jonas the tiger, and camels Shawn and Todd, back. He would not comment further, citing an ongoing police investigation.

Quebec provincial police declined to comment when asked if a ransom was paid.

A $20,000 reward was initially offered when the truck was snatched from a motel parking lot on its way back from a show in Nova Scotia last Friday.

Hackenberger said the thieves probably didn't know they were stealing a 150-kilogram jungle cat. But when they opened the truck, they found "more than they bargained for."

"From all the evidence, it was a crime of opportunity for the truck and the trailer," he said.

"There was not any consideration of the animals inside."

The trailer was located Monday night on the side of a small paved road under a tree in St-Edmond-de-Grantham, Que., roughly 40 kilometres from the parking lot where it was taken.

Police said they were acting on a tip from an alert passerby when they found the abandoned trailer on the country road.

Jonas, Shawn and Todd were unharmed through the ordeal.

Jonas was fed cat kibble and supermarket steaks, said Wendy Korver, the Bowmanville zoo's veterinarian.

Kibble, of course, is an insufficient diet for a three-year-old Bengal tiger. But a lack of water was the greatest threat to Jonas as he sat in his cage.

"Our biggest fear was that, specifically, Jonas would become dehydrated and his kidneys would start to fail," said Korver.

Most mammals can last three days without sufficient water, so they got to Jonas just in time, Korver said.

The camels can go up to 10 days without drinking.

Jonas sat calmly as reporters greeted him at the Bowmanville zoo Wednesday. He rubbed heads with Hackenberger's son, Dirk, and let photographers snap closeup shots.

The big cat's adventure made international headlines last week, and his 15-minutes of fame may continue. The tiger is a finalist for a role in an upcoming film version of the novel "Life of Pi," by Canadian writer Yann Martel.

Geographic location: Bowmanville, Bengal, Ontario Quebec Nova Scotia St-Edmond-de-Grantham

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