The "young tiger" loose just outside Paris is not in fact a tiger after all, local animal authorities have concluded.
However, French authorities have continued the search for what they now believe may be a lynx after a man claimed to have taken a photograph of the animal yesterday in a supermarket car park in Montevrain, near the French capital.
A spokesperson for the National Board of Hunting and Wildlife (ONCFS) told France's Le Figaro they had excluded the possibility the animal was a tiger after analysing paw prints discovered this morning at 6.30am outside a petrol station, approximately 10 miles from Montevrain.
There are suggestions the animal may be a lynx, which although exterminated around 1900 was later re-introduced to the Vosges and Pyrenees and migrated to the French Alps from Switzerland.
Residents have been warned to stay indoors while the search for the animal is carried out by police, fire official and a specially-trained hunting dog.
A helicopter with infrared equipment also combed the area overnight, according to Cedric Tartaud, a spokesman for the mayor.
As the light failed last night, Montevrain council said on its Facebook page that the search had been called off for the evening, but promised local schools would be secure by 8am, asking residents for: "the greatest prudence".
Parents were told to keep their children indoors or closely monitored until the animal was found.
It remains unclear how the big cat came to be in the area, although there have been suggestions that it escaped from a travelling circus that visited the small French town over the weekend.
Local supermarket manager, was quoted by the AFP News Agency yesterday saying that his wife “saw [the animal] this morning”, adding that she had said it might be “a lynx”.
Montevrain spokeperson Clement Joly said examination of a muddy footprint indicated that the animal weighs about 70 kilograms (154 pounds) and is about 1 year's old.
But by nightfall, senior officials were no longer using the word tiger.
"All forces are mobilised to capture this animal," Mayor Christianit Robache told reporters on BFM-TV.
The under-prefect for the Seine-et-Marne region, Frederic MacKain, said the fuzzy photo "leads us to believe it's the silhouette of a feline".
Additional reporting from Press AssociationReuse content