MILWAUKEE -- On Saturday evening, July 25th, around 7:15 p.m., Milwaukee police and DNR officials responded to the area of 30th and Fairmount for a "confirmed sighting" of a "lion-like animal." A perimeter was established -- and officials took part in a nearly 15-hour search that extended into Sunday morning. Then, there was a second sighting -- this one by an MPD officer. But so far, the possible "big cat" in Milwaukee hasn't been found.
Milwaukee police say the "big cat" that was reportedly spotted on the city's north side on Saturday may have gotten outside of their containment perimeter. Officials held a brief news conference on Sunday morning, July 26th in the neighborhood near 31st and Cameron. The commander on scene spoke briefly about the MPD operation that lasted for more than 12 hours.
The possible Milwaukee lion was spotted and ventured off into some thick vegetation, officials said -- and may have broken containment. Officials also say they have checked and re-checked the area -- but were not able to get another sighting of the "big cat."
Search for possible Milwaukee lion
Herbert Ball says he saw the animal around 7:15 p.m. Saturday and called 911.
Police on Saturday night concentrated their search in the neighborhood near 31st and Cameron. Neighbors say they were kindly asked to stay inside as police searched.
"We were not able to leave. There`s something going on. I truly believe there is something going on -- however, I don`t know how they`re coming from one end of Milwaukee to the other without being seen," Belinda Rockingham said.
Search for possible Milwaukee lion
"It may be a big, ugly dog -- but it is something. Stranger things have happened. I'm a Leo -- so this is cool for me. This is like one of my own -- kindred," Robert Butler said.
On Sunday morning, around 7:15 a.m., there was a second sighting by a Milwaukee police officer.
"From my understanding, it was a 100% confirmation that it was a lion-like animal. They know it`s a cat-like animal -- could be a young African lion or could be a mature mountain lion/cougar species. Unfortunately we weren`t able to keep visibility on it long. It went into some thick vegetation," MPD Lt. Paul Formolo said.
Officers began sweeping the ravine near 31st and Cameron.
"We were trying to flush it out in an area that was advantageous for us," Lt. Formolo said.
A K9 unit was brought in to help.
"The K9 officers did a method called 'bark out.' We had them on the perimeter were it was last observed. The K9 officers had their dogs bark for us, to see if that would flush it out -- but it did not work," Lt. Formolo said.
There was also a zoologist on hand for the nearly 15-hour search.
"The information we`re getting is the animal is stressed. It`s frightened -- so it could just bed down and not move or it`s slipped through our containment and trying to stay away from us," Lt. Formolo said.
Many neighbors came out to watch the search -- including Celia Jones, who says he frequently plays in the ravine.
"Of course, I`m extremely nervous, I`m on edge. I want to make sure the lion is tranquilized or something and being taken away somewhere to its natural habitat -- not here right here in Milwaukee on the corner where I live," Jones said.
Police are asking the public to be vigilant.
If you think you spot the Milwaukee lion -- you're asked to call 911 immediately -- and police advise you do not approach the animal.
Monitor FOX6 News and FOX6Now.com for updates on this developing story.