Tenn. Wildlife Groups Searching for Mysterious Big Cat After Tiger Sighting in Knoxville

Local authorities are continuing to search the Knoxville, Tennessee area for a tiger that was spotted by a deputy officer earlier this week.

According to Knoxville News Sentinel, a Knox County Sheriff's Deputy in the Forks of the River Industrial Park reported seeing a large, striped cat, about 150-200 pounds, approaching a nearby riverbank on Wednesday.

The deputy said the animal crossed the road before entering an area of dense woods.

Mary Lynn Parker, of big cat sanctuary Tiger Haven in Kingston, said the tiger would "definitely be a juvenile" if the description was correct.

The Tennessee Wildlife Resource Agency (TWRA) and representatives with Tiger Haven are leading the search for the tiger, which was last seen as of 9:30 a.m. Thursday, the outlet reported.

Knoxville police, animal control, and Air Watch are assisting in the search for the animal.

Matthew Cameron of TWRA told the outlet that officials are still unsure as to where the big cat came from.

Parker said all of her tigers are accounted for, as did Zoo Knoxville's spokeswoman Tina Rolen.

Officials have set up a culvert trap to catch the animal. If the tiger is successfully caught, it will be brought to Tiger Haven.

"We have all the proper equipment to transport and house a tiger," Parker said. "So if it was caught we'd have been able to load it in the truck and bring it to the sanctuary."

According to the outlet, the sighting has not been confirmed to be a tiger.

"There are cougars and things like that native to the area of course, but they're a bit more slender than what was described," Parker added.

She explained that the hit Netflix series Tiger King has contributed to an increase in wildlife in the area.

"Of course it's illegal to own a tiger in the state of Tennessee," she said. "But that doesn't stop people. There's a lot of interest since the Tiger King series."

Anyone with information about the tiger is asked to contact the Knox County Sheriff’s Office at 865-215-2243.

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