Five quid says it’s an imaginary lion

Where were you during the Great St Osyth Lion Outbreak of 2012?

Caravanners in the Essex village have been terrified by the sight of a lion roaming the streets and fields of the area. It was “a million per cent a lion”, said one mathematically excitable onlooker, who added that said lion “seemed to be enjoying itself”, perhaps in a seaside amusement arcade.

Now, I don’t want to pour cold water on what is clearly the greatest ongoing animal news story since HorseGate. But I do have to ask: how easy is it to lose a lion? Are there so many lions in Britain that someone has accidentally mislaid one?

Colchester Zoo, which is fairly nearby (15 miles by the B1027; they could go via the A120 but it’ll be rammed on bank holiday weekend), has three lions, but claims that they are all accounted for. Whipsnade and London do not report any lion truancies, and it would be a fairly resourceful lion that made it to the Essex coast from those places anyway.

No. Much as it pains me to say to the chap who bellowed “It’s a f***ing lion” may have been mistaken, I think there is a more likely theory:

dog dressed as lion

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