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British police call off hunt for Essex 'lion,' probably just a large house cat

Police in Essex wrapped up the lion hunt after finding no trace of a big cat — except, possibly, a fat house cat on the loose.
lion essex UK 2012-8-26Enlarge
Definitely not the lion spotted in Essex. (Tony Karumba /AFP/Getty Images)

British police have called off their search for a lion prowling the wilds of Essex.

Police in Essex county, near London, had warned residents to stay indoors after receiving reports of a lion in a field in the village of St. Osyth.

But they wrapped up the lion hunt today after finding no trace of a big cat — except, possibly, a fat house cat on the loose. 

"We believe what was seen on Sunday evening was either a large domestic cat or a wildcat," a police statement said.

"Extensive searches have been carried out, areas examined and witnesses spoken to; yet nothing has been found to suggest that a lion was in the area."

More from GlobalPost: Lion-hunt under way in Britain, residents advised to stay indoors

The Essex police force advised "people to once again return to normal life."

While we don't want to say we told you so, may we humbly point to our story about the massive police search for an escaped tiger last year.

Police in southern England went on major alert after reports of an "escaped tiger" hiding in the grass near a golf course in Hampshire.

A helicopter team with thermal imaging cameras was dispatched to track the tiger from the air.

Officers observing the tiger from the ground initially thought the beast was real — but then realized it wasn’t moving. The “wild animal” then blew over in the helicopter’s down draft, and it became clear it was actually a life-sized stuffed toy.

Not sure what the deal is with Brits and exotic animal mis-sightings. People, if you came to Africa on safari and spotted a real lion, you'd never again mistake a house cat for the king of the jungle.

More from GlobalPost: Escaped 'white tiger' turns out to be a toy

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatches/globalpost-blogs/weird-wide-web/british-police-cancel-hunt-essex-lion-probably-just-big-house-cat