Couple who claim to have seen the Essex lion insist the beast is still at large
Just when you though it was safe to go back on Clacton seafront, the couple who sparked a major police hunt after spotting what they believed was a runaway lion insisted the beast was still at large.
Gill and Steve Atkin, who are holidaying at a caravan park near the Essex resort, rejected newspaper claims that they had seen a large domestic cat called Teddy Bear belonging to a local woman.
“Whatever it was, it's definitely still out there,” said Mrs Atkin from Louth in Lincolnshire.
Mr Atkin reported the sighting of a “very large animal … possibly a lion” to police on Sunday prompting a helicopter search involving firearms officers as well as a media field day on a quiet Bank Holiday Monday.
But the hunt was eventually called off by Essex Police when it could find no trace of the animal.
“We witnessed it, I would say, for about 20 to 30 minutes cleaning itself and rolling about in the field, Mr Atkin told the BBC.
Essex Police have yet to disclose the cost of the operation to find the lion but a spokesman said the incident was not being treated as a hoax.
Today's media attention was also focused on the prowlings of Teddy Bear. The three-year-old Maine Coon - a large breed which which can grow to up to 25lbs and measure more than three feet long - was being pursued by photographers close to its home in St Osyth.
Owner Ginny Murphy, who watched the drama unfold on television in Liverpool conceded it was an easy mistake to make. "From a distance, because he has a light-coloured mane he does look a little lion like. I can see why someone would think that," she said. The drama in Essex prompted a flurry of interest in big cat sightings in other parts of the country.
One motorist contacted experts after claiming to have nearly hit a black panther while driving at Cleeve Hill in the Cotswolds.
- 1 Malaysia Airlines MH17 crash: Pro-Russian rebel 'admits to shooting down plane'
- 2 Israel has discovered that it's no longer so easy to get away with murder in the age of social media
- 3 Israel-Gaza conflict: The myth of Hamas’s human shields
- 4 Amy Winehouse unpublished 2004 interview: ‘Ten years from now I’ll be 30, so I’ll maybe have one baby’
- 5 Dutch paedophile club to fight their ban at the European Court of Human Rights
Lana Del Rey: 'I have slept with a lot of guys in the industry'
Peaches Geldof cause of death: 'Heroin addict' socialite had taken fatal dose of drug, inquest concludes
Peaches Geldof inquest: Tragic final moments of socialite's life reveal she lied to husband about failed heroin tests
Israel-Gaza conflict: The myth of Hamas’s human shields
Malaysia Airlines MH17 crash: Was a Russian-made missile really parked in this quiet square?
Malaysia Airlines MH17 crash: Vladimir Putin is given 'one last chance' to end hostilities in Ukraine
The 'scroungers’ fight back: The welfare claimants battling to alter stereotypes
The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering
Malaysia Airlines MH17 crash: Ukrainian military jet was flying close to passenger plane before it was shot down, says Russian officer
Malaysia Airlines MH17 crash: Massive rise in sale of British arms to Russia
Malaysia Airlines MH17 crash: victims’ bodies bundled in black bags and loaded onto trains
£49000 - £55000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: My client is...
£48000 - £54000 per annum + Benefits package: Progressive Recruitment: My clie...
£35000 - £45000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: If you're pa...
£45000 - £55000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: SAP Business...