Police last night warned residents to stay indoors and deployed armed officers and a helicopter after a report that a large cat was running loose in Essex.
The animal, believed to be a lion, was seen in fields off Earls Hall Drive in St Oysth, near Clacton, Essex, just before 7pm. Essex Police have been working with experts from Colchester Zoo who believe the reports to be genuine after being shown a photograph by a member of the public.
However, police said the lion had not escaped from the zoo, as all its animals had been accounted for.
There is an increased police presence in the area, including firearms officers and the police helicopter searching near where the animal was spotted. It is understood that at least one circus may have been touring the area recently.