Packard Plant employees insist they did not know a world-renowned wildlife photographer was bringing animals with him for a photo shoot at the abandoned factory on Detroit’s east side Monday morning.
But Detroit police not only knew, they were on the scene when British photographer David Yarrow and his crew lugged out cages with a tiger, two wolves and a bobcat. According to the city of Detroit, Yarrow received the proper permits to take the animals to the Packard Plant.
“This crew that was doing the filming requested and received all the necessary permits to do their filming,” Mayor Mike Duggan’s spokesman John Roach told the Free Press. “They didn’t do anything wrong in that regard.”
The photo shoot made international news after the large tiger got loose in the massive factory and settled on a concrete stairwell, where local urban explorer Tony Barchock tried to scare away the majestic animal with a weed whacker after Yarrow’s crew asked him for help.
It’s unclear how Packard Plant employees, including security, didn’t know about the animals.
“We were never informed of the animals being part of the shoot,”Kari Smith, director of development for the Packard Plant, told us early this morning. “They had no authorization from the owner, myself or anyone on our team to bring the animals on site.”
A post on Yarrow’s Facebook page said the photographer received proper permission to take the animals to the Packard Plant.
“David Yarrow Photography confirms the presence of live animals at a photoshoot at the Packard Plant in Detroit,” the post read. As with all our work across the world, appropriate licences were secured from the relevant agencies in the city of Detroit. We apologise for any concern or confusion regarding the use of these animals for a photoshoot which we believed to be approved (by) the City of Detroit.”
The post added: “As an avid conservationist, David Yarrow uses his imagery to draw attention for the critical need to protect our wildlife. Whilst most of his photography is on location, a small number of images have featured animals cared for by the very best and respected animal experts in the world. In every case, David’s message is to preserve and nurture our precious wildlife for future generations.”
The tiger was loose at the Packard Plant at about 10 a.m. Although police were on the scene, they initially denied knowing anything about it. We are awaiting a response from the department about whether the officer or officers on the scene were on duty at the time.
The tiger was captured shortly after noon.
“You sound more like a tormentor of animals than a conservationist,” Linda Lenoir posted on Yarrow’s Facebook page. “I am a wildlife photographer and know better than to go dragging around endangered animals in cages to photo shoots for my own glory and $$$$.”
Hey all. Update: This wasn’t my situation, it was a British photographer that brought these animals here. I got a call to help after it was already out of hand because I was close and have tools – no tiger experience. The order from the handler was to motivate him downstairs towards the handlers. He wasn’t having it. I don’t support wild animals loose in our city without permission and strict control. This had neither. #tigerwatch15
A video posted by Andy Didorosi (@thatdetroitandy) on
Steve Neavling lives and works in Detroit as an investigative journalist. His stories have uncovered corruption, led to arrests and reforms and prompted FBI investigations.