Officials say the owners of a tiger shot and killed early Wednesday after being spotted on Interstate 75 have been identified.
Georgia Department of Natural Resources said that an official with Feld Entertainment, a company contracted to transport the tiger, saw news reports of the morning incident and contacted officials.
"This afternoon, after seeing news reports, an official with Feld Entertainment, Inc., a company contracted to transport the tiger, contacted Georgia DNR Law Enforcement to report the missing animal from a shipment, which was traveling from Florida to Tennessee. The truck had stopped in Georgia during the overnight hours and during that stop, the female Bengal tiger managed to escape unnoticed. Feld discovered that she was missing when the truck arrived at the destination."
Feld Entertainment is a live show production company which owns a number of traveling shows, including the now-closed Ringling Bros and Barnum&Bailey Circus.
The company said the tiger's name was Suzy, and the 6-year-old animal was being transported from Sarasota, Florida to Tennessee where she was to be flown to Germany for a European circus.
They issued a statement to say: "We are continuing to work with the proper authorities while this case is being investigated. This is a sad day.”
The question of the tiger's owner was on everyone's mind after it was shot and killed by police in Henry County early Wednesday morning.
Police were initially called about the loose animal around 6 a.m. It was spotted on Interstate 75 near the Jodeco Road overpass.
HEAR THE AUDIO: 911 CALLS: 'There's a tiger in the front yard'
When police arrived, they said the tiger began to run toward the Meadow Brook community off of Jodeco Road.
Authorities said they shot and killed the tiger after it began to attack a dog in the backyard of a home.
According to officials, there was no necropsy performed on the tiger, which was cremated. Preliminary information leads officials to believe the tiger was born in captivity and was a victim of the exotic animal trade.
There were no apparent injuries to the animal, and the tiger did have claws and a full set of adult teeth.
Georgia Department of Natural Resources said that the state has only issued four permits to keep a tiger in Henry County, and all four went to Noah's Ark Animal Sanctuary.
Noah's Ark Animal Shelter posted on their Facebook page that all of their tigers have been accounted for.
Zoo Atlanta told 11Alive that both of its Sumatran tigers were accounted for.
According to Georgia DNR, the requirements to own a tiger in Georgia are:
- Must be a business.
- Must have a USDA license. (check with USDA for requirements)
- Must have liability insurance ($40,000 for each inherently dangerous animal with a maximum of $500,000)
- Animal must be housed in a facility that is detached from their home.
PETA had offered a reward of up to $2,500 for the identity of the tiger's former owner.
"Wild animals belong in the wild, and when dangerous apex predators are confined to private homes or for entertainment, the consequences can be fatal," says PETA Foundation Director of Captive Animal Law Enforcement Brittany Peet. "This escaped tiger's owner must be found, and PETA invites anyone else harboring exotic animals in Henry County to come forward to help get them transferred to reputable sanctuaries."