German police on Friday called off a search for a wild animal first believed to be a lioness roaming the outskirts of Berlin after it turned out to be possibly a wild boar.
In a story that has charmed Germany and spawned several satirical memes on social media, two men caught sight of a lioness chasing a wild boar on a road outside the capital on Thursday morning and made a short, grainy video.
However, his description and sighting by officers from his police car remained the only evidence of an animal being home in the African savannah compared to the sandy soil of East Germany.
The mayor of the small town of Kleinmacho, Michael Grubert, told reporters around 1100 GMT on Friday that the search had been called off when experts determined it was probably an animal more common elsewhere in the region.
“Everything indicates it is not a lioness,” Grubert said. The animal believed to be a lioness in the original amateur video, he said, was a boar “with relative certainty”.
Two experts “including one from South Africa” evaluated the video, compared it to images of lions on the hunt, and found clear differences.
“The two came to the conclusion that it doesn’t make sense to be a lion,” Martina Belak, spokeswoman for the city of Kleinmachno, said in a statement.
For more than 30 hours, area residents were advised to “act with reasonable caution and avoid adjacent forests” and to care for pets and farm animals.
Police said that despite several tips from citizens, including some who claimed to have heard a loud roar, no information helped in locating the animal.
Officers were searching the streets of suburban communities southwest of Berlin in the early hours of Friday using night-vision goggles and drones, but called off searches in the woods until daybreak.
Grubert previously told public broadcaster RBB that professional animal trackers searching for dung or bloody remains of prey were enlisted alongside veterinarians and poachers.
But he acknowledged that the massive operation involving more than 100 police officers as well as helicopters and thermal-imaging cameras was draining his community’s resources.
“This cannot go on for many days,” he said.
– ‘In Doubt’ –
Two dozen registered lions were accounted for in the state of Brandenburg around Berlin, officials said, after no owner came forward to ask whether the animal had been kept illegally.
Wildlife expert Dirk Ehlert had earlier expressed doubts that it was indeed a tigress after no trace of the animal had been found since Thursday morning.
“Lionesses don’t just vanish into thin air,” he told public radio.
Ehlert and other experts noted the creature’s relatively short tail in the video, as well as its large ears.
“I’ve never seen a lion with jug ears,” circus owner Michel Rogel told local media.
This was not the first time the Germans had been told to be on the lookout for wild animals.
In May, residents of the central city of Erfurt were shocked to see a kangaroo jumping across a busy road after escaping from a private property.
In 2019, it took several days for a deadly cobra to be re-captured in the western city of Herne, where residents were told to keep their windows closed and away from tall grass.
In 2016, a lion was shot dead by zoo keepers after it escaped from its enclosure in the eastern city of Leipzig and tranquilizers failed to stop it.
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV Staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)
featured video of the day
9 killed, 10 injured after car rams into crowd on Ahmedabad flyover: Police