Twelve tigers cooled their heels without a peep Tuesday in a large truck parked in the Century Plaza shopping center in west Frankfort.
The strange scene attracted police, sightseers and news reporters for several hours.
Frankfort Police Lt. Derrick Napier said police were called at 11:16 a.m. Tuesday about a large truck parked at the shopping center with tigers inside.
He said the caller first thought it was a large horse trailer but was surprised to see a tiger’s tail emerge from one of the side panels.
Napier said the driver of the truck, owned by Hawthorn Corp., of Sarasota, Fla, had a flat tire late Tuesday night and decided to park the vehicle in the parking lot.
The driver left the truck with the tigers inside to catch some sleep at a nearby Days Inn, Napier said.
Police and state Fish and Wildlife officials first checked the conditions of the animals when they arrived on the scene late Tuesday morning.
“All looked fine and we brought a city water truck here to give them water,” said Napier. “They will be ready to eat by night fall but we expect them to be out of here by then once the tire is fixed.”
The truck had been in Anderson, S.C.., and was headed to Chicago, he said.
State police charged the company with failure to pay its commercial motor tax and Fish and Wildlife cited them for no permit to transport wildlife in the state.
“There are worse things for police to cover but this is one of the odd ones,” said Napier. “At least there have been no major problems.”
Moira Colley, a spokeswoman for PETA, criticized the driver for leaving the tigers caged overnight.
“Such total disregard for animals’ well-being is why PETA urges families to stay away from all circuses that use animals,” she said in a statement.