On Sunday evening, police confirmed they were investigating reports of a lion in Essex. It was spotted by two residents in a field at St Osyth near Claction-on-Sea, who took the photo on the right. The claims were backed up by a holiday maker at a nearby caravan park who say they too spotted a large animal, and another resident says he heard a loud roar before receiving a text from his brother that a lion is on the loose.
Nearby Colchester Zoo weren’t able to confirm the identity of the animal because the photo is too blurry, but were able to confirm that none of their lions have gone missing.
Police took the reports seriously sending in two helicopters with thermal imaging cameras and 25 police officers, a dozen of who were armed. Experts from Colchester zoo also attended the scene armed with tranquilizer darts, looking for any signs of the animal such as paw prints.
Yesterday evening police have called off the search, saying it was probably either a large domestic cat or a wild cat, but are still advising residents to remain ‘a bit cautious’ and to call 999 if they spot the animal.
The last time a lion was spotted in public was in January in Huston Texas. Police received dozens of 911 calls about a lion stuck on a hotel roof. Firefighters rushed to the scene only to find on closer inspection, the lion was an 8ft soft toy.
The video below shows when firefighters first arrived on scene (the video has no sound).
Edit: It seems we were almost right about the Essex lion being a soft toy. BBC News is now reporting that the Essex lion could have in fact been a large domestic cat, who’s called teddy bear!