Pierce County animal control and law enforcement officers spent more than two hours searching for a Bengal tiger that three people reported seeing just outside of Puyallup on River Road.
A spokesman for the sheriff's office said a mother and son who live in the same house said they saw a tiger walk by their home. The driver of a car on River Road also reported seeing a tiger.
There are no licensed exotic animal farms or zoos in the area, the spokesman said.
One resident told KING 5 News that he saw a 200 lb cat with blond hair and black stripes walking through grass.
An expert from the Point Defiance Zoo in Tacoma offered these tips on what to do if you do indeed come across a tiger or other large cat:
Common sense should prevail, get yourself in a safe place, such as:
- A house with closed windows
- A vehicle with closed windows
- Do not go up a tree ... large cats can climb.
- Contain yourself in a closed area and call 911
- Best bet is to curl up in a ball -- remain very still
- Lie down and play dead.
Under Washington state law, it is illegal to own a potentially dangerous exotic animal unless it was in the owner's possession prior to July 22, 2007. The few exceptions are limited to zoos, nonprofit sanctuaries, research facilities, veterinarians and circuses.
Pierce County law requires owners of potentially dangerous wild animals to obtain a permit from the county auditor.
Stay tuned for updates on this developing story.
Reporting by KING 5's Elisa Hahn.