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'Milwaukee lion' lights up social media after reported sightings

"It's certainly a lion-ish creature, but we have not had any confirmed sightings by anyone since then," Milwaukee Police Chief Edward Flynn said.

By Ben Hooper
Cynthia Wilborn captured video of what police called "a lion-ish creature" wandering Milwaukee streets Monday. WISN-TV/YouTube video screenshot
Cynthia Wilborn captured video of what police called "a lion-ish creature" wandering Milwaukee streets Monday. WISN-TV/YouTube video screenshot

MILWAUKEE, July 22 (UPI) -- Milwaukee police said they are investigating a woman's cellphone video of "a lion-ish creature" that sparked a "Milwaukee lion" craze on social media.

Numerous residents reported spotting an animal variously described as a "lion" and a "mountain lion" Monday in Milwaukee, and local woman Cynthia Wilborn captured video of the creature on her phone and shared it with police.

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A Milwaukee Police statement said:

"Milwaukee Police received a call around 4:10 p.m. on July 20 from a person who saw what she believed was a lion in the 200 block of E. Garfield Avenue. Officers checked the neighborhood for several hours but have received no further reports from anyone seeing a loose animal. Officers contacted the Department of Natural Resources, which advised that anyone seeing a wild cat should call authorities and not try to capture it."

Milwaukee Police Chief Edward Flynn said the identity of the cat in the video has yet to be confirmed.

"It's certainly a lion-ish creature, but we have not had any confirmed sightings by anyone since then," Flynn told WISN-TV.

Flynn said officials contacted the Milwaukee County Zoo, which confirmed all of its lions were in their proper places.

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Officials from the state Department of Natural Resources said the animal in the video may have been a female cougar.

"We are treating it seriously. We have got a number of people out there looking," Flynn said. "Certainly, something could have come here from upstate following the deer population."

Local businesses joked about the "Milwaukee lion" on social media using the hashtag "#MKElion."

The Milwaukee Bucks tweeted mascot Bango was being dispatched to search for the lion, while the Milwaukee County Transit System tweeted a Photoshopped picture of a lion riding a bus.

"We think we may have seen the #MkeLion on one of our routes today," the MCTS tweet read.

The Visit Milwaukee Twitter account also joked about the lion, using some familiar Disney faces.

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"#MKELION livin it up on Old World Third St... Must be headed to @MadersWI" the tweet read.

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