TIME animals

Mysterious Cat-Like Creature on the Loose in Southern California

Experts "still cannot definitively identify the type of animal"

A large cat that appears to resemble a lion is roaming the streets of Norwalk, Calif., this weekend.

The city warned Thursday that a resident’s security camera captured what looked like a mountain lion walking around in the early hours of the morning last Tuesday. But on Friday, two experts from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife confirmed that the beast was definitely not a mountain lion, though they “still cannot definitively identify the type of animal.”

Craig Packer, a professor at the University of Minnesota Lion Research Center watched the security footage and told the Los Angeles Times that “it certainly does look like an African lion. It’s not a cougar.” The founder and executive director of the Project Survival Cat Haven, Dale Anderson, also told the paper it looked like an African lion, though expert opinions vary: a founder of another wildlife sanctuary thought it could be a leopard, while a Department of Fish and Wildlife expert believed it could have just been a dog.

Anderson said that, if the animal is indeed a lion, it likely had been kept as a rare pet.

“If a lion is out there like that,” he said, “it shouldn’t be happening.”

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