October 20, 2003
By VINCE LENNON
6 News Reporter
JACKSBORO (WATE) -- Animal control officers in Campbell County are searching for a primate, perhaps weighing 400 pounds, that's on the loose. And nearly 100 pets are missing.
"I didn't really get a good look at his face because he didn't hang around all that long," Donna Keathley said about when she saw an ape-like creature last week in LaFollette. "But he's big and he's got a really bad stinkful odor to him."
LaFollette Animal Control Officer George Moses said, "I believe that the people believe that they see it. I don't have any reason to doubt them, that they're mistaken."
Moses said he hasn't seen the animal but he's certainly heard of it. He started getting calls about it three weeks ago. All the alleged sightings center on the College Hill community, just outside the LaFollette city limits.
Coinciding with the sightings are numerous reports of missing cats and kittens. "All told, over 100" are missing, Moses said.
According to Donna Keathley, when she startled the animal, "This kitten he threw at me, no one knows where it come from."
One College Hill man, who declined to be identified, claims the primate is an orangutan. He said he saw it Tuesday morning leaving stool samples on his property.
Many College Hill residents believe the animal escaped a circus that performed at the nearby National Guard armory a few months back. But the LaFollette Police Department and the Campbell County Sheriff's Department didn't take any reports of a missing animal.
Donna Keathley said her neighbors are ready to shoot the animal. "If I had a gun, I would've shot it."
Several people told 6 News Monday that they want the animal caught or killed before Halloween so it can't attack a child or another pet.
Campbell County officers warn anyone who sees the animal not to attempt capturing it. It's considered dangerous. Instead, any sighting should be reported immediately to LaFollette Animal Control at (423)-566-1383.