Saturday, September 20, 2003 7:37 a.m. ET BAGHDAD (Reuters) - A U.S. soldier shot dead a rare Bengal tiger at Baghdad zoo after the animal injured a colleague who was trying to feed it through the cage bars, the zoo's manager said on Saturday. Adil Salman Mousa told Reuters a group of U.S. soldiers were having a party in the zoo on Thursday night, after it had closed. "Someone was trying to feed the tigers," he said. "The tiger bit his finger off and clawed his arm. So his colleague took a gun and shot the tiger." The night watchman said the soldiers had arrived in military vehicles but were casually dressed and were drinking beer. There was no immediate U.S. comment. At the tiger's now-empty cage, pools of blood showed that the soldier passed through a first cage intended only for keepers and was standing right up against the inner cage's narrow bars. Mousa said U.S. officials came to see him on Friday to discuss the incident. The tiger was one of two in the zoo -- once the largest in the Middle East , today a decrepit collection of dirty cages and sad-looking animals. In April, U.S. soldiers killed four lions that had escaped from the zoo. Hundreds of other animals were stolen or let loose by looters in the aftermath of the U.S. invasion of the Iraqi capital. Copyright © 2003 Reuters Limited.