Big cats discovered in Arkansas barn waiting on escort to Memphis airport

WEINER, Ark. — "Once we heard there were lots of wild animals in our little small community, we had to go on safari in Poinsett County."

Like many, Ashley Samuel drove just outside the city of Weiner, Arkansas to see if the rumors she had been hearing were true. While she ultimately didn't see any of the animals, the talk of the town turned out to be all too true.

Arkansas Game and Fish Commission wildlife officers confirmed seven tigers, six lions and one leopard were discovered behind a home on Saturday.

The animals were discovered after an anonymous tip was sent to the Poinsett County Sheriff's Office. By 11 p.m., the state agency was on the case.

 

Spokesman Randy Zellers with the Poinsett County Sheriff's Department said no arrests have been made, but they did speak with the animals' owner. The animals were reportedly being temporarily housed at the location while waiting for shipment to Germany via Memphis International Airport on Tuesday.

The owner does have a permit to own exotic animals, but reportedly didn't have the proper permission to have them in Arkansas.

It's unclear how they got here or where they are going once overseas, but until then authorities said they are now guarding them around the clock.

Last week, a tiger on its way to Memphis for shipment was shot and killed after it escaped in Atlanta. It is not known if the incidents are connected.

The facility in Arkansas where the big cats were found Saturday (Ian Ripple)