MILWAUKEE -- A possible lion in the city of Milwaukee has taken social media and even national news by storm. There have not been any more sightings yet on Thursday, July 23rd -- but the possibility that there is a big cat in the state has some animal advocates pushing for a change in state law.
The search for and interest in a lion possibly roaming the streets of Milwaukee is giving new momentum to an effort being lobbied at the Capitol in Madison -- to restrict the ability to possess exotic animals in Wisconsin.
"There's a very real possibility that somebody purchased a lion on the internet. That is something in the state of Wisconsin people are able to do," said Karen Sparapani, executive director of the Milwaukee Area Domestic Animal Control Commission (MADACC).
While Milwaukee and other municipalities have ordinances against keeping wild and exotic animals, Wisconsin as a whole is one of five states which does not. The Humane Society of the United States is lobbying in Madison to change that.
Humane Society officials say in other states, the legislation has been rushed into law after tragedy.
“We don’t want that sort of tragedy to happen in Wisconsin. If this situation in Milwaukee resolves without incident, we’ll be grateful and hope the Legislature moves quickly to approve pending legislation,” said Melissa Tedrowe, with the Humane Society of the United States.
Websites offer exotic animals that can easily be ordered and shipped into the state. Recently, the Milwaukee Area Domestic Animal Control Commission has had to deal with some of these animals -- just a sample of the exotic animals that have come into Wisconsin.
So whether we ever know more about the so-called 'Milwaukee Lion,' animal welfare advocates say they hope what we do know is enough to change Wisconsin law.
The bill is being sponsored by Senator Van Wanggaard (R-Racine). It has been offered in the past, and now, the groups hope there is enough attention to get swift action.
An MPD spokesman said this in a statement to FOX6 News Wednesday evening on the possible lion in Milwaukee:
"MPD officers have been advised that, if a lion is located, they should not attempt to capture it but should call for additional resources who will follow the animal until it can safely be put down.
Animal experts have advised that no attempts should be made to capture the animal, as it may be a dangerous predator.
It is the priority of the Milwaukee Police Department to maintain the safety of the public and of our officers at all times."
MPD has taken about two dozen reports of a big cat in the city of Milwaukee since Monday night -- when the first possible sighting was reported near Garfield and Palmer.