Deputies and wildlife officers were armed with tranquilizer guns Monday as they searched for a tiger that escaped from the home of an actor who once portrayed Tarzan (search).

When the first deputies arrived on the scene, the 6-year-old tiger jumped on top of their car, said Paul Miller, spokesman for the Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office.

The cat was reported missing from Steve Sipek's (search) residence, which is near a wilderness area about 15 miles west of West Palm Beach (search).

Sipek has another tiger, two lions, a black leopard and a cougar on his 5-acre property, the Palm Beach Post reported. The cats, mostly castoffs from zoos, are in a mazelike series of interlocking cages.

People nearby were asked to stay indoors, said Willie Puz, spokesman for the conservation commission. "There's no such thing as a tame wild animal," he said. The town is a few miles from Lion County Safari and the Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge.

Searchers were to use an infared-equipped helicopter Monday night to try to spot the animal. "It could just go back home on its own, and we're hoping for that," Puz said. "It could just lay down and go to sleep."

Sipek portrayed Tarzan under the screen name Steve Hawkes (search) in movies made in the late 1960s, Miller said.

In 2002, a 750-pound tiger mauled a woman who was helping Sipek during a photo shoot at his compound, which is barricaded with an iron gate and flanked by tall concrete slabs. At that time, Sipek had taken in 52 animals during 32 years.