Armed police scramble to north-east farm after farmer mistakes stuffed toy for real tiger

The stuffed toy that a farmer mistook for a real tiger before calling the police.

Armed police descended on a north-east farm after a panicked farmer mistook a stuffed toy for a tiger.

The dramatic operation, at a farm in the Hatton area, was launched at the weekend when the farmer went to his cowshed and discovered what he thought was a big cat.

But when firearms officers reached the scene they discovered that it was a children’s toy.

The force described the incident as “a false call made with genuine good intent”.

The farmer – who has not been named, but was said to be “very embarrassed” by the mix-up – went to his outbuilding on Saturday night and spotted the “tiger”.

It is understood the toy was “near life-size” and the farmer sent a photograph to the police, however, it proved inconclusive.

Officers also contacted the Highland Wildlife Park near Kingussie – about 100 miles away – to check that its tigers, Dominika and Marty, had not escaped.

Inspector George Cordiner said: “Unusual as the call may have seemed, any call reporting a potential danger to the public has to be taken seriously and efforts were made to verify the sighting as soon as possible, including making contact with the nearest wildlife park to make sure they did not have an escapee.

“The incident was stood down within 45 minutes once officers attended and established there was no threat to the public.

“We appreciate that it was a false call made with genuine good intent.”

He added: “As is standard practice when we are made aware of a potential threat to the public, the use of firearms officers was considered as a contingency. In this case, firearms officers attended the area in support of the local community officers but they were not deployed nor required.”