German police continue to search for lions on the loose in a Berlin suburb, with helicopters and armored vehicles used in counter-terrorism deployed to track the beast.
The authorities were alerted early Thursday morning after residents in the southwest of the city claimed to have seen the wild cat in the woods.
At least 30 police cars were deployed alongside commandos, drone fleets and vets to help with the search, and local residents were told to stay indoors until he was found.
On Thursday evening, a policeman was heard shouting “get out of the woods quick!” for joggers, with his colleague telling the residents: “it’s heating up, it was visible”.
Despite this, the location of the lion remained invisible overnight and specialist hunters carrying tranquilizer guns and machine pistols remained in various locations around Kleinmachnow.
A video shared on Twitter, which police believe to be genuine, appears to show the lioness roaming through a wooded area near the affluent suburb.
Bild, the German tabloid, used geolocation software to find the exact location, which was revealed to be only 30 meters from a residential building.
Local zoos, sanctuaries and circuses have all denied that one of their lions had escaped, fueling speculation that the cat was kept privately as a pet or was a false alarm.
Michael Grubert, the mayor of Kleinmachnow, sought to reassure local residents that the animal would be caught quickly, and if possible without bloodshed.
“Our hunters… also have ammunition… the first objective is to catch,” he said. “Police officers will only take other measures if their lives or the lives of others are at risk.”
He also warned residents against outdoor activities, saying: “I wouldn’t go jogging.”
Children have been advised not to ride bikes, and the local nursery school will not allow its pupils to play tomorrow while the search is underway.
Police spokesman Daniel Keip told RBB “during the summer you often hear reports of crocodiles in swimming lakes and then it turns out to be a big duck. In this case it is clearly true.
Residents are advised to stay indoors and keep their pets with them, and guidance has been issued for people to avoid the forest and seek shelter immediately if they see the lion.
Florian Eiserlo from the animal welfare organization Four Paws told the Rheinische Post newspaper that if anyone runs into the animal, they should not panic.
“Hold still, stay calm, try to get to a safe place like a car or a building,” they said.
Despite this, some residents remain skeptical with local circus director Michel Rogall telling the Taggespiel newspaper: “If it’s a lion, I’ll eat my hat.”