Force on alert as officers stalk toy tiger

Police are trying to trace the owner of a life-sized toy tiger which sparked a major operation involving armed officers and a helicopter.

The alert was raised by the public when they spotted what they thought was a live white tiger in a field at Hedge End, near Southampton, on Saturday afternoon. A police helicopter was called, a golf course was cleared and the scare stopped play at the Rose Bowl cricket ground for 20 minutes.

But as officers moved in, they realised "the tiger" was not moving and the helicopter crew, using thermal imaging equipment, found there was no heat coming from it. A spokeswoman said: "The tiger then rolled over in the down draft and it became obvious it was a stuffed toy."

Hampshire police said the toy – similar to one which would be won at a fair – was being treated as lost property.