Share |

Monday 27 August 2012

The St Osyth Lion

The sleepy Essex village of St Osyth is today the centre of an unusual drama in which a police helicopter has been scrambled and a cordon set up by the constabulary near the fields in which it is claimed a lion has been sighted. A family staying in a caravan are said to have taken a photograph of the beast last night, although the BBC reports that it is of such poor quality that experts cannot make out what it is; it is said to be of a sandy colour. Roaring is also reported to have been heard in the vicinity. The eyewitnesses say that it was "several hundred yards away" when they saw it "preening".

None of the lions at Colchester zoo are missing, and the circus that visited the locality of late did not possess such creatures. What then, could account for this sighting? My hunch is that they spotted a large labrador or golden retriever. If not that, it could have been a beefy ginger tom, someone playing a prank dressed in a lion costume or, if the holidaymakers were real urban types, they may even have mistaken a bellowing Jersey cow indistinctly glimpsed through some trees or bushes for a big cat. Then again, the Shepley Lion may have ventured down from Huddersfield for a bank holiday outing.

By Monday evening the police had called off their hunt, with zoologist Anthony Tropeano concluding that the 'lion' was most likely to be a large dog. The picture of the 'lion' taken by a couple and handed to the police for examination is reproduced below. As you can see, it bears a striking resemblance to a ginger tom, but the video report from the BBC proves that this too is a misidentification.

The St Osyth 'lion' is, apparently, a Maine Coon cat called "Teddy". Does he terrify you? No? Me neither. Looking at this soft furry creature whose natural habitat seems to be the carpet beneath his owner's bed, I think that I would be rather more afraid if I came face-to-face with the two witnesses of the 'lion'. What must have been going through their heads to have mistaken this ball of fluff for a terrifying predator from the savannah? More importantly, just what must the police be thinking? Perhaps it is time for the Essex constabulary to check what the couple had ingested on the night of the sighting. What with this and Pussy Riot, it's been a rather feline month for blogging.

The St Osyth 'Lion': a Maine Coon Cat


  1. Probably a Golden Retriever and any excuse for the stoopid lazy plods to get the helicopter out, make loads of noise and fuck up peoples' Bank Holiday...........

    Laurie -

    1. It is pretty astonishing, given that the picture was clearly of a domestic cat, that the police went to such lengths. Have none of them ever watched a wildlife documentary before?


Comments that call for or threaten violence will not be published. Anyone is entitled to criticise the arguments presented here, or to highlight what they believe to be factual error(s); ad hominem attacks do not constitute comment or debate. Although at times others' points of view may be exasperating, please attempt to be civil in your responses. If you wish to communicate with me confidentially, please preface your comment with "Not for publication". This is why all comments are moderated.