In a suburb of Los Angeles, a mystery beast is on the prowl.
Grainy security footage of a catlike animal slinking across a driveway in Norwalk, California, showed what was originally thought to be a mountain lion. But after closer inspection, however, experts say they now aren’t so sure.
According to Time, two experts from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife said that the animal in the video is not a mountain lion, but they “still cannot definitively identify the type of animal.”
Dale Anderson, executive director and founder of the Project Survival Cat Haven in Dunlap, California, had one of the most intriguing theories. According to the Los Angeles Times, he thinks that the gait and physical characteristics make the animal look an awful lot like an African lion.
The local zoo says that all of its big cats are accounted for. Therefore, if the animal is indeed a lion, it almost certainly would have been kept illegally.
Exotic pets like lions and tigers cost thousands of dollars a year to properly take care of. Due to the expense of keeping such animals, many privately-owned exotic pets are frequently given away or confiscated by the government, notes the Wild Animal Sanctuary, which specializes in rescuing and taking care of large carnivores that have been mistreated or whose owners can no longer care for.
"If a lion is out there like that, it shouldn't be happening," Anderson told the Los Angeles Times.
Other experts weighed in to the Los Angeles Times. Joel Almquist, executive director and founder of the Forever Wild Exotic Animal Sanctuary, said it looks like a leopard. Don Nelson, a game warden with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, thinks it’s probably just an old dog, noting that the scale of the video footage makes the animal seem larger than it is and that the animal is likely no more than 2 feet tall.
ABC News points out that there was a similar lion scare in Virginia last year, but the animal turned out to be a labradoodle named Charles the Monarch with an elaborate mane-like haircut.
The animal has not been seen since the footage was originally taken, so the mystery continues. Many residents are keeping their pets indoors for a while, just in case.