People help a hippopotamus escape from a flooded zoo in Tbilisi, Georgia, Sunday, June 14, 2015.
Tinatin Kiguradze—AP
By NBC News
June 14, 2015

Georgia mobilized its special forces on Sunday and warned residents in the capital not to leave their homes after lions, tigers and bears — among other animals — escaped during floods that have claimed at least 12 human lives.

Heavy rains and wind hit Tbilisi overnight on Saturday, turning a normally small stream that runs through the hilly city into a surging river. Officials said 12 people were known to have died and about two dozen others were missing.

The surging floodwater destroyed enclosures at the zoo, killing some animals and letting loose others…

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