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Last Updated: Monday September 01 2008 14:14 GMT

Escaped 'lion' is really a dog

A lion
The mystery creature wasn't a lion in the end

A search for a lion on the loose in north Belfast has been called off after the animal turned out to be a dog!

A number of people phoned Northern Ireland police on Sunday, saying they had seen a large sandy-coloured animal prowling near the city's zoo.

A major police operation was launched, and zoo keepers searched the grounds to check all the animals were still there.

But on Monday officers called off the search, saying it had turned out to be a stray dog!

People searching for the lion
People searching for the 'big sandy-coloured animal'
A police spokeswoman said: "Police can confirm that there's no stray lion wandering about in north Belfast."

There are lots of reports of people seeing big cats roaming around the Northern Ireland countryside.

But officers say the sightings usually turn out to be large wild cats.