Princess, A 20-year-old Siberian tigress, is the parking attendant every city dreams of, as long as there is no zebra crossing near by.
Twelve days ago, Princess and five other tigers took up residence in a car park in Narbonne, south-western France. Their tamer said the towbar on his Mercedes truck had snapped. Since then the circus act has lived on the charity of butchers, bakers and, probably, candyfloss-makers.
But these cats' eyes are on the main chance, irate animal rights activists say. "They've pulled the trick of the truck breakdown all over Europe, then lived off people's charity," one such group, One Voice, says.
Joseph Korittnig, 23, the tamer, denies the claim. "The towbar went at Névian, seven kilometres from Narbonne and a friendly tow-truck brought us to the car park of the Parc des Expositions. What else could we do?" Mr Korittnig says his Austrian circus family has been taming tigers for 200 years.
The tamer and his wife, Laetitia, say they were sacked by a Belgian circus this month because "my wife is sick, pregnant and can no longer drive the truck".
But in Narbonne, holidaymakers are flocking to the car park to see Princess and the other tigers, and residents are bringing food, cakes and soft drinks. Today a mechanic is expected to repair the Korittnigs' truck.
"Everyone is being very supportive," Mr Korittnig said. "The director of Narbonne Abattoirs delivers offal and other waste for the tigers, who get through up to 15 kilos of meat a day."
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