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Lion of few words enlivens damp Sunday in Essex

[28 Aug 2012] Reports of a lion on the loose near the village of St Osyth, near Clacton, Essex have been debunked after police sharpshooters and helicopter crews, who spent more than a day scouring the countryside, found no trace of it. Residents had been told to stay indoors.

Campers said they had clearly seen the big cat (‘It was one million per cent a lion’), villagers heard it roaring loudly even when they were indoors, and Rob Hull – a barman at the Tudor Bar social club – said he saw it in a field next to the road after he went to buy petrol. He told the Daily Mail, which splashed the story on its front page:

‘It was ambling laconically along by the lake in the field, like it didn’t have a care in the world.’

But the beast of spartan speech habits seems to have vanished, and the owner of a large tan-coloured Maine Coon called Teddy Bear, which lives locally, said her pet had probably been mistaken for the lion.

Meanwhile, officers are thought to be making enquiries of fancy-dress shops in the area, while a man seen laughing hysterically and carrying a tin of Tate & Lyle golden syrup is under suspicion of perpetrating a hoax.

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