Tiger Spotted in Knoxville May Not Have Been a Tiger After All

A tiger gazes into the crowd of the Bronx Zoo.
A tiger (similar to the animal pictured above) was spotted loose in East Knoxville, Tennessee, officials said. Getty Stock Images

The tiger thought to be on the loose in East Knoxville, Tennessee may have actually been a bobcat, authorities said.

A tiger was said to be on the loose in East Knoxville, Tennessee last week, but now officials with the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency have said that may not have been the case. The alleged tiger may have actually just been a bobcat, officials said.

“Although bobcats are common across the area, they are rarely seen,” Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency officials said in a statement. “In low light conditions, they can resemble a tiger cub.”

The alleged tiger was first spotted Wednesday night by an off-duty deputy and later, Knoxville police reported multiple unconfirmed sightings in the area.

The “loose” tiger prompted a multi-agency search in the area and warnings to locals to exercise caution while out and about.

"The Knox County Sheriff’s Office Patrol Units, Animal Control, Air Watch, TWRA, KPD’s Animal Control Unit and Representatives with Tiger Haven are working to locate a tiger that was spotted by a KCSO Deputy in the Forks of the River Industrial Park tonight," the sheriff's office said in a statement late Wednesday. 

At the time of the statement, there had been no other known sightings. But at 7 a.m. Thursday, authorities said the animal had been spotted near Thorngrove Pike in Knoxville, WVLT-TV reported. Multiple calls reporting possible sightings in the area around John Sevier Highway near Thorngrove Pike and on Bales Lane came in over night as well. 

Officials with the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency told the television station they set a trap for the tiger. If it is caught, it will be Tiger Haven. It's still unclear where the animal came from, as Zoo Knoxville told WVLT all tigers at the zoo had been accounted for as of Thursday morning.