Is Teddy the giant tom cat REALLY the mystery lion of Essex? Owner says he's the only 'big gingery thing around there'


Lion or tabby cat: Images similar to this one were handed to Essex police, sparking the large-scale search involving helicopters last night

Prowling through the fields the fearsome feline patrols his hunting ground, pausing only occasionally to preen his luxuriant ginger mane.
His confident strut attracts the attention of onlookers, but after teasing them with a glimpse the elusive creature is gone. To where? No one can be sure.
In this case, however, the answer was probably nothing more wild than home for his dinner.

Lion-like: Teddy Bear the Maine Coon cat may be the 'Essex Lion', or so his owner believes

For this is Teddy Bear, the domestic cat who was last night at the centre of speculation that he had inadvertently triggered Britain’s biggest safari hunt in living memory by being mistaken for a lion.
The three-year-old pet – a Maine Coon which can weigh up to 25lb, be up to 16in tall and 40in long – lives just a few hundred yards from where holidaymakers spotted a big cat at a caravan park near Clacton in Essex on Sunday.

Ready to shoot: An armed police officer patrols near the caravan site in Clacton-on-Sea last night

Following reports of a wild animal on the loose, armed officers and two police helicopters using heat-seeking equipment, which cost £880 an hour to run, were scrambled.
Workers from nearby Colchester Zoo carrying tranquilliser guns scoured the fields and residents were warned to stay indoors. Caravanners were temporarily moved to a nearby garden centre.

Beware: Village green at St Osyth (pictured) near to where the beast was believed to have been spotted. Police have now called off the search of the area

But while the local community was plunged into terror, Teddy Bear’s owner Ginny Murphy watched the drama unfold on television from Liverpool, where she was away. And she immediately had her suspicions.
‘It clicked right away,’ she said. ‘We thought it had to be Ted as he’s the only big gingery thing around there and he does tend to wander into that field.’

People passing this photo of a lion around social networking site Twitter thought this was the lion that sparked the hunt. Police have confirmed it is a fake

After looking at the pictures of the supposed lion Mrs Murphy said she had no doubt it was Ted.
‘There’s no question about, it’s him. As we were away he probably went into the field to sulk.
‘From a distance, because he has a light-coloured mane he does look a little lion like. I can see why someone would think that.
‘He’s a Maine Coon, which is the biggest breed of domestic cat. And he’s got the personality to match, he has such a bad attitude and puts the dog in his place all the time.

source: dailymail