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‘Knoxville tiger’ could be bobcat or cougar, says Zoo Knoxville expert

A tiger expert from Zoo Knoxville said it’s “absolutely possible and absolutely likely” that a bobcat or cougar could have been mistaken for a tiger.
Published: Sep. 10, 2020 at 6:09 PM EDT
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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) - A tiger expert from Zoo Knoxville said it’s “absolutely possible and absolutely likely” that a bobcat or cougar could have been mistaken for a tiger.

“Nothing negative towards the Sheriff’s Office, because it could be a tiger,” said Phil Colclough from Zoo Knoxville," but I get calls here a lot at Zoo Knoxville from people who think they may have seen a tiger and they share a picture and it’s a bobcat."

Cougars have migrated into the western part of Tennessee over the past few years. According to TWRA, since September of 2015, there have been a few confirmed sightings of cougars in Tennessee. You can find a log of those sightings and their locations here.

However, Colclough says a real tiger roaming around Knoxville isn’t outside the realm of possibility.

“I’m not discounting it at all, that it’s not a tiger," said Colclough. “This animal is probably scared to death, it’s probably hiding, it’s probably not moving anywhere right now. It may move as it gets a little darker tonight. You know, there are a number of people that think it’s ok to have these animals for pets and keep them illegally here in the state and you know, this is a dangerous animal.”

A WVLT News viewer submitted a photo of a bobcat spotted in their Farragut yard on September 2.

You can follow the latest updates on search efforts for the tiger here.

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