Why a Tiger Was Let Loose in the Historic Detroit Packard Plant

Detroit residents on alert about a tiger on the loose in the city rest easy.

ByABC News
August 17, 2015, 6:43 PM
The Detroit Packard Automotive Plant opened in 1903 and closed in 1958 was taken in Oct. 2013 in Detroit, Mich.
The Detroit Packard Automotive Plant opened in 1903 and closed in 1958 was taken in Oct. 2013 in Detroit, Mich.
Benjamin Beytekin/AP Photo

— -- Detroit residents who may have had a moment of panic with reports of a tiger on the loose can rest easy.

It turns out people managing a photo shoot at a historic site in Detroit simply needed an extra hand getting the animal back in its crate.

Detroit native Andy Didorosi told ABC News he received a call today from a friend requesting his help at the Packard Plant to contain a tiger.

"I got a call that the tiger was stuck in the staircase," Didorosi said.

Didorosi, 28, founded the Detroit Bus Company, which provides community transit and narrated tours. He said his friend needed "something with a loud noise," such as a leaf-blower to scare the tiger into a crate in a trailer. Didorosi didn't have one, so he brought his weed-whacker instead.

"I helped out without thinking much about it," Didorosi said. "I thought it was uncool that a British photographer comes down and leaves abandoned animals in the city, when there are 700,000 people living here."

The complex was initially made up of nine buildings for the Packard Automotive Company built between 1903 and 1905. The site has been mostly abandoned since about 2010 and was sold through an auction in 2013 to Arte Express Detroit to renovate the "historically significant plant," according to PackardPlantProject.com.

British photographer David Yarrow booked a two-day shoot at the plant but didn't mention wild animals in his application, the Detroit Free Press reported. Yarrow did not respond to a request from ABC News for comment.

"There was a naked woman with a trench coat. It was a high-fashion shoot, which seems like the dumbest thing," Didorosi told ABC News. He also spotted two wolves, and the Detroit Free Press noted there was also a bobcat.

Didorosi posted on Facebook with images and video from the day, "When your friend calls and says he needs help getting a tiger out of a staircase, you listen. (I just happened to be the closest dumb person to the scene. The real crime here is that I used vertical video, apologies to the world.)"

"Bright side: no matter what I do for the rest of the year, it'll always be the second dumbest thing I did in 2015," he posted.

Didorosi said the loud noise from the weed-whacker didn't help the handlers lure the tiger from a fourth-story staircase in one of the buildings back in its crate. Didorosi said he doesn't know what eventually lured the tiger, but the photo shoot was eventually called off by the site managers.

A spokesman for Animals of Montana, which provided the animals, told ABC News that "no tiger escaped and no tiger was on the loose." He added that the photo shoot intended to show "the beauty of the beast and the beauty of Detroit."

"However, in the middle of that, a lot of people took to social media. It was a perfect example of social media overblown," he said.

Kari Smith, project manager for the Packard Plant Project, told the Detroit Free Press, "We arranged for a photography group of humans to be on site for two days. We never approved any animals being on the site, and we had the matter taken care of in the first hour. We do not condone animals being on the site here, and the shoot was canceled. This is nothing we signed on for."

Smith did not immediately respond to a request for comment from ABC News.

"I'm a Detroit native so I don't take lightly of people using the city for their own weird crap," Didorosi said.