UPDATED to include the conclusion. It is at bottom.
The Guardian, Daily Mail, and BBC are reporting that a lion is apparently on the loose in the rural English town of Essex. Police have told residents to stay indoors as they use increased manpower and helicopters to try and capture it.
Several residents heard a loud roar, and one person took a photo as they spotted it in a field. The photo was shown to keepers at the Colchester Zoo and after seeing the picture they are taking the residents’ reports seriously. However, the lion had not escaped from the Zoo, as all their lions are accounted for.
UK Guardian: Lion on the loose in Essex
“Police have warned residents to stay indoors after reports of a lion running loose in Essex. Thirty officers, including a firearms team, and two police helicopters were called to the scene of the sighting in fields off Earls Hall Drive in St Osyth, near Clacton. Officers from Essex police contacted experts from Colchester Zoo, who believe the reports to be genuine after being shown a photograph from a member of the public. However, police said the animal had not escaped from the zoo, as all its big cats had been accounted for.”
Daily Mail: Hunt for lion on the loose in Essex
“A police spokesman said: ‘The large cat, believed to be a lion, was seen in fields off Earls Hall Drive in St Oysth, near Clacton, just before 7pm on Sunday, August 26, 2012. Police are trying to establish where the lion may have come from. Anyone who sees the lion is advised to call 999.’
BBC: Police investigate lion sighting at St Osyth
Local resident Che Kevlin told the BBC: “I heard a loud roar at 10pm. It sounded like the roar of a lion.” Armed police have been drafted into the area and two police helicopters are searching the area where it was spotted. Police said all the animals at Colchester Zoo had been accounted for. Asked about the possibility of the lion having escaped from a travelling circus, an Essex police spokeswoman said: “We are investigating where it may have came from but it is fairly safe to say that it did not escape from Colchester Zoo.”
The thing that makes me shake my head (smh) is that folks on Twitter are laughing about this. It becomes immediately apparent that Essex is not a well-thought-of town…and even more strangely, within minutes of the police appeal to stay indoors, St Osyth was trending on Twitter and an account set up @EssexLion. The Lion now has a twitter account. Welcome to the twenty-first century version of concern: mocking, scorn, and sarcastic laughter. Some examples:
“There are many reasons to be glad that one does not live in essex. Tonight we can add “no risk of being confronted by a lion.” to the list.”
“There’s a Lion loose in Essex? Oooh I hope it goes for the TOWIE cast first… “
“there’s a lion in the uk? but it’s in essex so that’s basically natural selection taking it’s place” [this tweeter had a cross in her avatar, too]
“The temptation for the residents of Essex to sing the lion sleeps tonight is only a whim away.”
“sorry the lion ate my homework and my schoolbag”
So much for prayers and compassion for the people who are barricading themselves in their homes and RV’s tonight… There was one report of a daddy who had heard the roar who was walking with his children. The Daily Mail report was:
“‘The lion was in the middle of the field with its back towards me. When someone else screamed it turned around and you could see it from the side.’ The van driver, from Romford, Essex, continued: ‘I grabbed my children’s hands and we ran towards our caravan. My children started to scream, “daddy, is the lion going to get us?” ‘It was one million per cent a lion. It was a tan colour with a big mane, it was fully grown, it was definitely a lion. It was just standing there, it seemed to be enjoying itself.”
Imagine how scary it is to have seen such a thing, how perplexing for the police to be tracking it, now in the dark, how unimaginable a thing it is to have to deal with predation of the highest order in a rural, sleepy town!
During the Tribulation, this will be a regular occurrence. Revelation 6:7-8 says-
“When he opened the fourth seal, I heard the voice of the fourth living creature say, “Come!” 8And I looked, and behold, a pale horse! And its rider’s name was Death, and Hades followed him. And they were given authority over a fourth of the earth, to kill with sword and with famine and with pestilence and by wild beasts of the earth.”
Amazing times. I hope they catch this lion soon!!
The UK Independent reported on how this story ended. Sort of ended…
Silly season goes out with a roar, but the Essex lion frenzy proves to be just a cat flap
And so it passes into myth, and joins the Beast of Bodmin, the Surrey puma and other such legendary creatures – the 24-hour wonder that was the Essex lion.
Yesterday, police called off the hunt for this prime example of the king of the jungle, allegedly seen in the somewhat unregal surroundings of a field adjoining a caravan park at St Osyth, near Clacton-on-Sea.
It was the biggest thing to happen to St Osyth since the North Sea floods of 1953. So the eventual police assertion of its non-existence – “we believe what was seen on Sunday evening was either a large domestic cat or a wild cat” – produced a palpable sigh of disappointment across the nation, which had quickly become obsessed with it, and in particular the media, which was suffering the effects of a late-onset, post-Olympics silly season.
In its short life, the Essex lion was near the top of every news bulletin. Sky News and the BBC news channel ran plentiful coverage until the hunt was called off, while the Daily Mail, expertly sensitive to the darkest fears of Middle England, gave it the whole front page for some editions of yesterday morning’s paper, complete with picture of roaring male lion baring fangs. For this was an August Bank Holiday story that had everything. Not only was our beast an ABC, which is how Alien Big Cats are referred to by cryptozoologists, those amateur animal hunters convinced that the Yeti, the Bigfoot and the Loch Ness Monster are all out there. It was the biggest ABC of all, carrying the suggestion of law-abiding citizens being torn to pieces and eaten.
Yum yum. But more than that, they would be torn to pieces and eaten in Essex – excuse me while I try to stop chortling – seen by some as Britain’s most comical county…
Imagination ran riot as the mythical beast produced a Twitterstorm. An army of tweeters chuckled, tittered and guffawed online with Essex-lion jokes about big hair and tan-coloured skin. One message, from comedian David Schneider, read: “All I’m saying is I remember when we spotted our first fox in London, and now look how many there are.” The @Essexlion spoof account attracted nearly 40,000 followers before Twitter suspended it.
But all the while, Essex Police were taking the suggestion of a lion on the loose seriously and had employed helicopters with heat-seeking equipment, armed officers and vets with tranquiliser guns (no figures were available for the cost of the operation). They had little choice. Witnesses swore it was a lion. Rich Baker, 39, from Romford, Essex, who was staying in a nearby caravan, said: “It was a million per cent a lion.”
Yet eventually, the search drew a blank, and an Essex Police spokesman was forced to concede: “Nothing has been found to suggest that a lion was in the area.”
In the Middle Ages, they had books called bestiaries, which were compilations of both real and mythical creatures, beautifully illustrated by monks. Maybe we need a British bestiary now. The Beast of Bodmin would go right in. So would the Surrey puma. And the Essex lion – why, that would have the place of honour.
and that ends the Lion of Essex story!