HENRY COUNTY, Ga. - Authorities said they have identified Feld Entertainment Inc. as the company contracted to transport a Bengal tiger that was on the loose in Henry County Wednesday morning.
The company contacted law enforcement to report the missing animal from a shipment going from Florida to Tennessee, according to police.
Officials said the tiger managed to escape after the truck stopped in Georgia during the overnight hours.
"At some point during that stop, it escaped, we don't know how at this point, we're working with local law enforcement and DNR, we want to know to make sure it doesn't happen again," said Steve Payne with Feld Entertainment.
The company discovered the tiger was missing once it reached the truck reached its destination, according to police.
An examination of the tiger revealed a microchip that matched to the number held by Feld Entertainment Inc., according to authorities.
Latika McClain was driving to work around 4:30 a.m. when she spotted the tiger.
"I look up and I see something and I think, 'Is that a bear?' I get a little closer and I'm like 'Oh my God, it's a tiger!" said McClain.
McClain said the tiger was strolling down the ramp at Interstate 75 and Jodeco Road in Henry County.
"That thing was humongous when I looked over at it, it looked and me and I said 'God please don't let it jump on my car and get me'," said McClain.
She wasn't the only one to see the Bengal Tiger. The 911 center received numerous calls from drivers.
"There's literally a tiger on the ramp," one caller to 911 is heard saying.
Then the big cat wandered into a residential area. Brittany Speck saw the tiger in her yard. She was a little too close to her dog, Journey.
"It was a full grown zoo tiger, it was massive.
The tiger had jumped on my dog," said Speck.
That is when police made the decision to shoot the tiger.
"The tiger jumped the fence and attacked an animal, and being near people, the officers made the decision to take the animal down," said Henry County Police Capt. Joey Smith.
Smith said it took several hours before they discovered the tiger was being transported when it escaped. Authorities are now trying to determine if charges will be filed.
Noah's Ark Animal Sanctuary said police contacted them in hopes of safely bringing the animal back to their facility by chemically immobilizing it.
"Unfortunately, human life became at risk and the tiger was shot by the authorities," Noah's Ark said. "All of our tigers are accounted for."