England police call off lion search

Updated Aug. 27, 2012 at 10:56 AM

ST. OSYTH, England, Aug. 27 (UPI) -- Police in England said they have called off the search sparked by an alleged lion sighting and said the animal was likely a large domestic cat or a wildcat.

Essex police said about 25 officers and experts from the Colchester Zoo searched the St. Osyth area after a visitor reported spotting a lion with his wife Sunday night, but the search was called off Monday after the searchers, who used methods including two helicopters with thermal imaging equipment, were unable to find any trace of a big cat, the BBC reported Monday.

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

Police said all of the animals at Colchester Zoo were accounted for and a traveling circus in the area said it does not keep lions.

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