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|British helicopter hunt for 'lion on the loose in Essex'|
|Monday, 27 August 2012 16:48|
AFP- British police on Monday deployed firearms officers and a helicopter as they launched a lion hunt following reports of a cat-like beast roaming in a field in Essex.
"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," an Essex police spokesman said.
Residents living in the area are being advised to stay indoors.
Officers from Essex Police have been working with experts from Colchester Zoo who believe the reports to be genuine after being shown a photograph from a member of the public.
"There is an increased police presence in the area, including firearms officers and the police helicopter searching near where it was spotted," the spokesman said.
Police are also trying to establish where the lion may have come from. Anyone who sees the lion is advised to call 999.
Roger Lord, of Earls Hall Farm, St Osyth, said a picture of the suspected lion had been taken by residents in caravans on the farm land and passed to police.
"The first thing we knew about it was a phone call from the police last night," he said.
"I am sceptical - I think it might just well be a large domestic cat but they certainly saw something that they were were concerned about and they went down the right route to the police.
Che Kevlin said he heard what he believed to be a roar whilst out walking his dog last night.
"I heard a loud roar at 10pm. It sounded like a lion," he told the BBC.
"It was worrying as we had just been for a walk with the dog. We saw the police helicopter but thought it was just searching for a person.
"It sounded like the roar of a lion. We have a field and wood just behind our fence, so you never know." (photo by safari-partners)
Two parody Twitter accounts for the lion have already sprung up under the handles @EssexLion ("Roar bruv, I'm a lion, ain't I?") and @TheEssexLion ("in your garden").
Elsewhere on Twitter, many were joking about the lion being let loose on the cast of popular British reality show, The Only Way Is Essex.