‘Lioness’ search near Berlin ends, wild pig suspected

For more than 30 hours, residents in the area had been advised 'to act with appropriate caution and to avoid the adjacent forests'.

German police on Friday called off a search for a wild animal initially believed to be a lioness roaming the outskirts of Berlin after determining it was more likely a wild boar.

In a story that fascinated Germany and gave rise to a slew of satirical memes on social media, two people had spotted early Thursday what appeared to be a lioness chasing a wild boar down a street outside the capital and made a short, grainy video.

Lioness on the loose?

However their account and a sighting by officers from their police car remained the only evidence of an animal more at home on the African savanna than the sandy soil of eastern Germany.

The mayor of the small town of Kleinmachnow, Michael Grubert, told reporters around 1100 GMT on Friday that the search had been called off when experts determined it was probably an animal far more common to the region.

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“Everything indicates it is not a lioness,” Grubert said. The animal thought to be the lioness in the original amateur video was “with relative certainty” a boar, he said.

Two specialists “including one from South Africa” had evaluated the video, comparing it with images of lions on the prowl and found marked differences.

“Both came to the conclusion there was no way it was a lion,” Kleinmachnow city spokeswoman Martina Bellack said in a statement.

For more than 30 hours, residents in the area had been advised “to act with appropriate caution and to avoid the adjacent forests” and look after pets and farm animals.

Despite numerous tips from citizens, including a few claiming to have heard a loud roar, none of the information had led to the animal being located, police said.

WATCH: Lioness attacks leopard in road

Officers had been combing the streets of suburban communities southwest of Berlin in the small hours of Friday using night-vision goggles and drones but called off a forest search until daybreak.

Grubert had told public broadcaster RBB earlier that professional animal trackers searching for dung or bloody remains of prey had been enlisted alongside veterinarians and hunters.

But he acknowledged that the massive operation involving over 100 police officers as well as helicopters and thermal-imaging cameras was stretching his community’s resources.

“This can’t go on for days,” he said.

‘Into thin air’

The two dozen registered lions in Brandenburg state surrounding Berlin were accounted for, authorities said, leaving police to ask whether the beast had been kept illegally when no owner came forward.

Wildlife expert Derk Ehlert had earlier voiced doubt it was actually a lioness on the loose due to the absence of any trace of the beast since early Thursday.

“A lioness doesn’t just disappear into thin air,” he told public radio.

Ehlert and other specialists also noted the relatively short tail of the creature in the video, as well as its big ears.

“I’ve never seen a lion with jug ears,” circus owner Michel Rogall told local media.

It was not the first time Germans had been told to be on the lookout for wild animals.

In May, residents in the central city of Erfurt were jolted by the sight of a kangaroo hopping across a busy road after escaping from a private property.

In 2019, it took several days for a deadly cobra to be recaptured in the western town of Herne, where residents had been told to keep their windows closed and steer clear of tall grass.

In 2016, zookeepers shot dead a lion after it escaped from its enclosure in the eastern city of Leipzig and a tranquiliser failed to stop it.

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