German Police Search for a Lion Suspected to Be on the Loose on the Edge of Berlin

Sven Kaeuler/TNN/dpa via AP
Police patrol during a search operation for a dangerous wild animal near the village of Kleinmachnow in the southern suburbs of Berlin, Germany, Thursday, July 20, 2023.

BERLIN (AP) — German police searched Thursday with helicopters, drones and infrared cameras as well as a vet and hunters for a potentially dangerous animal, suspected to be a lioness, that was sighted overnight on the southern edge of Berlin.

Police were alerted to the animal in Kleinmachnow, just outside Berlin’s city limits, around midnight by people reporting that they had seen what appeared to be a big cat chasing a wild boar. The informants also provided a video. Based on that and a subsequent sighting of their own, the police concluded that the animal was apparently a lioness.

Helicopters and 30 police cars participated in the search, which was still ongoing Thursday afternoon. A vet and two hunters also were involved, and a search with two drones and infrared cameras was underway in an area where the animal was seen.

People in Kleinmachnow, a town of about 20,000 in a flat, wooded area on the boundary between Berlin and the surrounding state of Brandenburg, were advised to stay indoors if possible — and in any case to refrain from walks and jogs in the woods, and to take dogs at most for short walks on a leash.

Local authorities left child daycare centers open, though they were asked not to let children outside, and scaled back the town’s weekly market.

The warning was extended to neighboring southern areas of Berlin and an alert was sent on an official warning app that the animal was suspected to be a lioness. On Thursday afternoon, police in the capital tweeted that there had been a “possible sighting” of the animal just inside the city limits.

“The primary aim, if at all possible, is to capture the animal, if necessary with an anesthetic,” Kleinmachnow Mayor Michael Grubert said. “Other measures will only be taken on a case-by-case basis by police officers on the ground if their own lives or those of others are endangered.”

Police said they had sought information about where the animal came from during the night, but none of the zoos, animals shelters, circuses or other facilities they checked was missing a lioness. Grubert said there was no information on one being privately owned in the area, and added that he didn’t know whether owning such an animal privately is even permitted.

He said authorities consider it unlikely that the animal has gone very far from where it was first sighted.