The Attica Zoological Park said it had recovered a rare but abandoned white tiger cub earlier this week from beneath a garbage bin on a nearby street.
Located 25 kilometres from the centre of the Greek capital and near the Athens International Airport, the Attica Zoological Park said the four-month-old female cub was paralysed from the waist down.
"No one knows where it came from or how it got here," park founder Jean Jacques Lesueur told Proto Thema daily, adding that the feline was likely abandoned on Monday.
"It's in terrible condition," he added.
Conservation group World Wildlife Fund (WWF) describes white tigers as "a genetic anomaly," with none known to exist in the wild.
They are often the result of inbreeding, exposing them to a host of health problems at birth.
The park says it hosts more than 2,000 animals from 290 different species.
It was criticised in June last year after an alpha male chimpanzee escaped its enclosure during operating hours, and was later shot dead for public safety reasons.
According to the zoo, the chimpanzee, which was 27 years old and stood at 1.80 m (5’10) before its death, was able to escape its cage, get over an electric fence, and then make its way to the zoo’s parking lot.
The captive animal’s escape followed an altercation with the other chimpanzees held at the zoo near Athens.
Many people questioned why the animal was killed rather than simply sedated, but the zoo stated that the extremely high levels of adrenaline in the chimpanzee’s system meant that sedating it was not possible, as it could take around twenty minutes for the drugs to kick in.
Lesueur said that there was no other possible solution to handling the escape of the animal while speaking to the Greek television network Alpha.
“Chimpanzees belong to the red and highest risk category, so according to the safety protocols and the risk assessment by the present and competent veterinarians, who observe the behavior of the animal, their neutralization is considered,” Lesueur stated.
“I understand people’s concerns. What we want to emphasize now, as well as in our statement, is that an animal in such a state of anxiety, with high adrenaline, can’t be sedated,” he continued.
“We isolated the animal and monitored it for 15 minutes, we tried to put it back in the zoo, it wouldn’t go back, it was very nervous. There was no way of leading it to a safe place. We weren’t able to capture it,”Lesueur said. “It was outside of the zoo’s grounds.”