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A Week Later, Milwaukee Police Still On The Hunt For 'Lion-Like' Animal

For a week, police had been receiving reports of a "lion-like" animal roaming the streets of Milwaukee.

Early last week, a resident even caught video of the creature. The cellphone footage showed what looked like a big, wild cat walking across a lawn:

The sightings increased as the week went by, and the police department closed streets and deployed teams of police officers and conservation officials. NBC News reports:

"Armed police, accompanied by Department of Natural Resources agents, converged Sunday morning on a bridge over Lincoln Creek after a police officer saw a 'catlike' animal in a ravine, but 'unfortunately we weren't able to keep visibility,' and the animal likely has escaped the containment effort, Milwaukee police Lt. Paul Formolo said.

"Another officer spotted what appeared to be the same animal overnight, leading police to focus their search near the intersection 30th and Fairmont streets.

"Formolo told reporters the officers would prefer to tranquilize the animal, but they are armed with lethal containment weapons if they're needed."

Police asked residents to stay away from the area. Still, curious about the mysterious animals, residents flocked to try to catch a glimpse.

As for what the animal is, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports that's also a mystery:

"Police still don't know exactly what the animal is. Formolo said a zoologist helping in the search said it could be a young African lion or a mature mountain lion or other cougar species. The DNR deferred comment on the animal to Milwaukee police.

"Based on a civilian video, Jill Carnegie, who has been rescuing exotic animals for 43 years, believes it is a cougar that someone had been keeping as a pet. Carnegie, president of Valley of the Kings Sanctuary and Retreat in Sharon, said the animal is too little to be a lion and weighs more than a wild cougar.

"She said the animal may be tough to find.

" 'Cougars are great for climbing trees and getting into tight places,' Carnegie said. 'They also camouflage so you could walk right past it and not see it.' "

Like all animals on the loose these days, the Milwaukee "lion-like" animal has a twitter account:

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Eyder Peralta is NPR's East Africa correspondent based in Nairobi, Kenya.