KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) - An off-duty deputy who reported seeing a tiger roaming in East Knox County Thursday night appeared to tell dispatchers in a 911 call recording, “Is there any animal control units ... I’m out with a tiger cub.”
In a 911 call released by Knox County, the deputy, who was performing private security details in the area, appeared to tell dispatch the animal looked to be four to six months old, although admitted he wasn’t quite sure how to gauge the exact age of that sort of animal.
He reported spotting the animal in the Forks of the River Industrial Park. The Knox County Sheriff’s Office said the sighting happened so fast the deputy wasn’t able to capture a photograph.
On Thursday morning officials with Zoo Knoxville, Littler Ponderosa Zoo and Tiger Haven all told WVLT News their tigers were accounted for.
The sheriff’s office said officials with animal control, KPD, Air Watch, Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency, and Tiger Haven, a big cat rescue in Roane County, initially worked together to capture the tiger. The case was then handed off to TWRA and, as of Thursday night, the animal still had not been captured.
Tips came trickling into dispatch Wednesday night and Thursday morning. One caller told 911 that she spotted the tiger in her backyard on Thorngrove Pike.
“It was running across the yard,” she told dispatch. “It was going towards John Sevier.”
On Thursday, another woman called 911 and said she saw it right across from her house. “I heard on the news there’s a tiger on the loose ... I just spotted it. It’s like right across the road from my house.” The caller told dispatch she lived on French Broad Lane and saw it when she was out walking her dog.
Zoo Knoxville officials told WVLT News Thursday night that the tiger might actually be a bobcat or cougar, but it’s not impossible that a tiger is roaming the area.