POINSETT COUNTY, AR (KAIT) - According to Arkansas Game and Fish Commission spokesman Randy Zellers, authorities are investigating the discovery of seven tigers, six lions and a leopard found in a barn in Poinsett County.
Zellers said the Poinsett County Sheriff's Department received an anonymous tip Saturday about the animals. Deputies went to the scene and saw the animals in plain visible through one of the building's open doors.
Officers spoke with the owner of the animals at the shop. The owner said the animals were temporarily housed while waiting for shipment to Germany via Memphis International Airport Tuesday.
However, Zellers said the AGFC is trying to confirm the story with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency.
"We're actually still going back and looking back and verifying all the information on the history of these animals and where their origin is, but we do know these animals he does have the paperwork and he does have the proper licenses to move forward and to have these animals shipped to Germany which is their final destination," Zellers said.
No one has been arrested or charged in connection with the discovery, Zellers said.
Poinsett County Sheriff Kevin Molder said the sight of the animals Saturday was something that his department had never dealt with before.
"At the time I didn't know exactly how many, I could just see from outside and it was just it was not something that I'd ever seen, with the exception of at the zoo and not being that close to that kind of animal, they're amazing animals," Molder said.
AGFC Major Brad Young says wildlife officers will be at the location around the clock to make sure the animals are contained. They will also escort the animals to the Tennessee state line where they will be met by TWRA personnel.
Zellers stated large carnivores are among animals restricted for importation into the state without prior written approval from the AGFC, according to the Arkansas Code of Regulations.
The animals will be taken to Memphis Tuesday for their flight to Germany, officials said late Monday.
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