Runaway-Tiger Tale

Has a Sad Ending

* A 600-pound tiger that escaped from its Florida home Monday was shot and killed yesterday after it lunged at a state wildlife officer who was trying to capture it.

The 6-year-old tiger, named Bobo, apparently escaped by climbing over a 12-foot fence at its home in Loxahatchee, 50 miles north of Miami. Bobo was spotted several times in the area over the next 24 hours, but searchers armed with tranquilizer darts never got close enough to try to disable the animal.

Officials said the officer who shot Bobo did so in self-defense.

"We're distraught," said Jorge Pino, a state wildlife official. "Our concern was to recover this tiger alive and well."

Bobo, who was declawed but not defanged, lived on a large compound with Steve Sipek, an actor who played Tarzan in some 1970s Spanish-language movies. Sipek has several other big beasts at home, including two lions, a leopard, a panther and a cougar.

Sipek, who has a permit to keep exotic wildlife, said he has been devoted to big cats since one pulled him from a fire during the filming of a movie. Sipek had tried to reassure searchers that Bobo, whom he had raised from a cub, was not a threat because the tiger had never been taught to hunt.

Bobo was killed by a wildlife officer.