The Knox County Sheriff’s office initially reported a sighting out in the Forks of the River Industrial Park on Wednesday night around 7:30 p.m., leading to a citywide hunt on Thursday. Residents corroborated the report, with one woman reporting to the sheriff’s office that a friend working in the industrial park had seen a tiger hanging around the Green Mountain Coffee Roasters plant, 5 News reported.
A second sighting later placed the tiger near Thorngrove Pike, according to WBIR News. The woman who reported the sighting claimed to have seen the tiger in her backyard.
KCSO immediately issued a be-on-the-lookout (BOLO) notice after the first sighting. According to the transcript of the initial call, the deputy who spotted the tiger reported that it might be a cub.
"You heard right. It's a tiger cub. It might be a TWRA call," the deputy said. "I don't know how to judge the age of the tiger cub, but it's probably around the 4-to-6-month range."
Tiger Haven, a big cat sanctuary in Kingston, Tenn., was involved in the search for the missing big cat, but it remained unclear whether or not that's where the tiger initially escaped from.
The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency is leading the search effort alongside Knox County Sheriff Patrol Units, Animal Control, Air Watch as well as the Knoxville Police Department’s Animal Control Unit. If found, the big cat will be taken in by Tiger Haven.
All the tigers at Zoo Knoxville are accounted for, zoo spokeswoman Tina Rolen confirmed Thursday. The zoo is not involved in the search.
“We want to reassure everyone that our Zoo Knoxville Malayan tigers Arya, Bashir and Tanvir are all safely accounted for. Our team is standing by to assist if needed. If you have information please contact the Knox County Sheriff's Office,” she said in a statement to WATE.
Unconfirmed sightings, which have yet to be verified by authorities, have since been reported in the southeastern part of the county near John Sevier Highway, according to Knox County Emergency Dispatch.
Fox News' Danielle Wallace contributed to this report.