KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – Welcome to the next level of Jumanji.
In a year that can't possibly can't get any stranger, officials say they are now looking for a tiger loose in East Knoxville, Tennessee – no, really.
Local authorities are searching for a tiger that was spotted by a Knox County Sheriff's Deputy late Wednesday night.
Local authorities are working with representatives with Tiger Haven, a big cat sanctuary in Kingston, Tennessee, to locate a tiger that was spotted by a Knox County Sheriff's Deputy in the Forks of the River Industrial Park late Wednesday night.
The Tennessee Wildlife Resource Agency is now leading the search, but have not spotted the big cat as of Thursday morning.
Unconfirmed tiger sightings have been reported in the southeastern part of the county near John Sevier Highway, according to Knox County Emergency Dispatch. Cameron said officials have not confirmed the tiger sightings, and if there is a tiger, they're not sure where it came from.
All the tigers at Knoxville Zoo are accounted for, according to zoo spokeswoman Tina Rolen.
Mary Lynn Parker, of Tiger Haven, said all their tigers are accounted for as well, and joined the search Wednesday night to assist with equipment. A culvert trap has been set and if the animal is caught, it will be taken to Tiger Haven.
"We have all the proper equipment to transport and house a tiger," she said. "So if it was caught we'd have been able to load it in the truck and bring it to the sanctuary."
Of the sighting, Parker said a deputy on patrol in the industrial park reported seeing a large cat, between 150 to 200 pounds that appeared to be striped come up from a nearby river bank, cross the road and enter an area of dense woods covered in kudzu.
The big cat sighting has not yet 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 said. "Of course it's illegal to own a tiger in the state of Tennessee. But that doesn't stop people. There's a lot of interest since the 'Tiger King' series."
Knoxville police, animal control and Air Watch are also assisting in the effort.