Posted by: Loren Coleman on March 27th, 2010
While it certainly was not a black panther, and quite likely an escaped pet (?), these new reports about a “lion,” “tiger” or “white mystery cat” in the ultra-urban neighborhood of Avondale of Cincinnati, Ohio, are somewhat unusual, regarding the changing descriptions recorded by the media.
My newstipster (Steve) questions the authorities ability to “capture” this animal since a cow escaped capture for 11 days in a nearby neighborhood in 2002.
The lion had a big head of hair says Rodney Meeks.
The Phoenix Community Learning Center in Avondale is on spring break this week, so their courtyard should have been deserted. But, several people on their way to work Thursday morning say they saw one big, hairy intruder, possibly a lion in the courtyard.
“I looked across the street and I saw something sniffing the fence,” said Rodney Meeks. “He was just standing there and he leaped over the fence.”
One of Meeks’ co-workers from the Glencare Center was walking down Glenwood Avenue.
“I stopped him and I said, ‘Charles, do you see that?’ And we looked, we both looked and he got up on his hind legs and looked into a window of the school, and me and him both said, ‘That’s a lion.’”
Several calls were made to 911. Cincinnati police, fire and members from the SPCA and Cincinnati Zoo responded. “Everywhere we looked there was nothing,” said Mike Dulaney, Curator of Mammals for the zoo. “If there was an animal, it somehow got out before we got there.”
Dulaney personally counted all the big cats at the zoo to make sure they were accounted for.
That doesn’t assure Avondale resident Larie Andrews. She lives across the street from the school. “Yeah, I’m very concerned, You come out your door, there’s a big lion, what you gonna do?”
She and her friend Latrace Horne are worried the animal may have been living in the neighborhood for a while as a personal pet. “That could be a protector of a house that you definitely ain’t gonna go in,” added Horne.
While that might sound a little far fetched, consider this statistic from Mike Dulaney. “There are actually estimated to be more tigers in private hands in the United States than there are left in the wild. And that estimate goes anywhere between 5,000 and 10,000.”
Cincinnati police, fire and animal rescue officers searched Thursday for a large white cat reported seen in the Avondale area by residents.
Authorities staged at the Phoenix Community Learning Center in the 500 block of Glenwood Avenue, where they had reports that the animal had run.
Firefighters on a fire ladder poked at a large wooden box in the school’s courtyard. Officers had their guns drawn. The Hamilton County SPCA and officials from the Cincinnati Zoo were present. Nothing was found and the search ended there at about 9:15 a.m.
Police first got reports early Thursday morning of a large white cat running around. Police contacted officials at the Cincinnati Zoo about 7:15 a.m. Zoo officials told police they were not missing any animals.
Late Thursday, officers were still looking for an animal matching the cat’s description.
Capt. Michael Neville said in his 23 years with Cincinnati police, he has seen people with exotic animals such as alligators in their homes, but never a lion or a tiger, as witnesses described the cat.
“It would be amazing to think that someone has one as a pet,” he said.
It is illegal to own exotic animals in Cincinnati, Neville said.