Thursday, November 19, 1998 Published at 20:00 GMT
Police call off search for lion
There are many places for a lion to hide in Dartmoor
Armed police have called off their search for a lion, believed to have been loose in the area around a Devon village.
The hunt began after a motorist said he spotted the lion on a country road on the southern fringes of Dartmoor on Thursday morning.
By late afternoon, there had been two more sightings of the animal within two miles of the original one.
Police Sergeant Alan Mobbs said he understood the lion was an immature male, about two years old.
People living in the area were advised to stay indoors and not walk their dogs as two teams of dog handlers, accompanied by armed officers, combed the fields.
The animal, which has a bloody mane, was sighted by Paul Gourley, 42, after he dropped his children off at a school in Wrangton.
It panicked when his car approached to within 20 yards and jumped through a hedge, vanishing into fields.
Cold and hungry
Asked if he was sure of what he had seen, Mr Gourley, of Cheston Caravan Park, Wrangton said: "I know a lion when I see one."
However, he said none of the 13 big cats were missing from the wildlife park and he had no idea from where the beast could have come from.
Mr Godbeer said: "If it is cold and hungry it is going to look for food, but for most of the big cats, humans are last on the list.
"It is not a rabid wild animal hunting humans.
"It is going to run away long before it does anything else.
"With its senses, it is going to pick us up long before we know it is there."
It is not the first time big cats have been reported roaming wild in the country.
For more than 15 years, the hunt has been on for the so-called Beast of Exmoor and the Beast of Bodmin.