Authorities determined on Friday that there is “no acute danger” to people in an area on the edge of Berlin where a potentially dangerous animal was spotted, saying they no longer believe that a lioness is at large and calling off the hunt.

A search turned up no sign of such a predator, and experts who analyzed a video have concluded that it was likely a wild boar, they said.

Police were first alerted to the animal in Kleinmachnow, just outside Berlin’s city limits, around midnight on Wednesday when people reported what appeared to be a big cat chasing a wild boar. The informants also provided the video.

Berliners warned of suspected lioness on the loose
Michael Grubert, Mayor of Kleinmachnow, holds a picture which shows that suspected animal on the loose may not be a lion, according to experts, in Kleinmachnow, Germany July 21, 2023.


Based on that and a subsequent sighting of their own, police initially concluded that the animal was apparently a lioness. But it proved elusive in searches Thursday and Friday in the flat, wooded area on the boundary between Berlin and the surrounding state of Brandenburg. Several reported sightings went unconfirmed; in one case on Friday, police only found a family of wild boars.

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.

On Friday, police thoroughly combed woodland on both sides of the state boundary. Helicopters with thermal imaging cameras were taking part in the search for the animal. Veterinarians and hunters were also called in.

They found no indication at all of a lioness, any wild animal other than wild boars — which are common in the area — or an animal that had been killed, Kleinmachnow Mayor Michael Grubert told reporters.

Officials also had experts analyze the video and compare the animal that was depicted with the body structure of a lioness, Grubert added.

Two experts concluded independently of each other that “this isn’t a lioness or a wild animal” and that the creature “tends toward a wild boar,” he said, adding that the rounded back and thick legs of the animal shown in the poorly lit video did not fit with it being a lioness.

“We will return to the usual vigilant program and we think there is no acute danger for Kleinmachnow or for the south of Berlin,” the mayor said, adding that police would be able to step back up straight away if the situation changes.

Grubert defended the large, 36-hour deployment, in which helicopters, drones and infrared cameras were used and vets and hunters participated, as “appropriate.”

“The danger of a wild animal in Kleinmachnow justifies the deployment,” he said, adding that he would act the same way “if I were in the situation today.”

There was no immediate word on the cost of the operation.

Police search for dangerous wild animal in Brandenburg
Two men, one of them with a dog and a vest bearing the inscription “Community hunter,” stand by a car during a search operation for a wild animal spotted near the southern border of Berlin, Germany, July 20, 2023.

Paul Zinken/picture alliance/Getty

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 tranquilizer failed to stop it.

AFP contributed to this report.


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