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"Blackpool tiger" in Scottish police's gunsights

Paul Jelley of Playtime UK and Stuff It, with the largest size of tiger. A smaller version caused an armed police response when found on a Scottish farm.
Paul Jelley of Playtime UK and Stuff It, with the largest size of tiger. A smaller version caused an armed police response when found on a Scottish farm.

A huge toy tiger which caused armed police to be called out to a farmer's barn, is likely to have come from Blackpool, a businessman has said.

The cuddly creature in question is one of around 1,000 made by Stuff It, a Squires Gate company which makes stuffed toys for funfairs and retailers and which sells them through its own retail arm Playtime UK.

An image from an Aberdeen police officer of the toy found in a farmer's barn.

An image from an Aberdeen police officer of the toy found in a farmer's barn.

Armed police were sent to an Aberdeenshire farm after reports that a tiger was on the loose.

A farmer called Police Scotland to his land near Peterhead after spotting what he thought was a real tiger in his cow shed on Saturday night.

Officers checked with local wildlife parks and sent a number of units, including an armed response team, to the farm.

It was eventually found that the tiger was, in fact, a large cuddly toy, probably put there as a prank, and Police Scotland described it as a "false call made with genuine good intent".

Paul Jelley from Playtime Uk of Amy Johnson Way, which makes various sizes of the tigers and has been doing a roaring trade in them for many years said: "I am 99 per cent certain that it was one of ours. I read the story and am just pleased the police took it all in good faith and good humour."

He said he could understand the people's mistake in the dark of a shed, due to the large size of the toy and the way they are made. He said: "They are quite realistic. The skins are hand made in China and hand printed to get the patterning right.

"We ship them over flat-packed and then stuff them here to sell on."

Peterhead Inspector George Cordiner said: "We received a call from an extremely concerned member of the public late on Saturday evening with regards to a wild animal being loose in the grounds of a farm in the Hatton area.

"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 starting to make contact with the nearest wildlife park to make sure they did not have an escapee.

"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, they attended the area in support of the local community officers but they were not deployed nor required.

"Until you know exactly what you are dealing with, every option has to be considered.

"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."

Mr Jelley added that the tigers come in various sizes and the one found in Aberdeenshire sold in shops for around £25, but Playtime UK do a full size version which sells for around £400.