WEINER, Ark. – Fourteen exotic cats have been found in a Poinsett County facility.
The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission (AGFC) says wildlife officers discovered seven tigers, six lions and one leopard in cages when they responded to a call for assistance from the Poinsett County Sheriff’s Office at 11 p.m. on Saturday.
An anonymous call alerted authorities about the big cats. They were found in cages that were plainly visible through one of the building’s open doors. Officers spoke with the owner of the animals at the shop, who said the cats were being temporarily housed while waiting for shipment to Germany via Memphis International Airport on Tuesday. The AGFC was trying to confirm the owner’s account with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency (TWRA).
Maj. Brad Young with the AGFC says wildlife officers will be posted around the clock at the location to ensure the animals remain contained, and will escort them to the Tennessee state line, where they will be met by TWRA personnel before they continue their journey.
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 agency says importation of such animals not only can pose risks to public safety, but also can cause unintended spread of diseases or parasites.
“Our No. 1 priority is to ensure the safety of the citizens of Poinsett County,” Young said. “The owner of the animals is with them on-site, and the animals are being taken care of. We just want to make sure they remain secure throughout their time in Arkansas.”
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