‘Lioness’ on the loose in Berlin


A wild animal, presumably a lioness, was on the loose in the southern suburbs of Berlin, Germany on Thursday. Residents were warned to stay indoors and hunters joined the police in searching for the animal.

The police raised the alarm for the first time in the early hours of the morning when two people saw a lioness chasing a wild boar in a street, less than 5 km from the German capital.

Two pedestrians spotted the cat around midnight in Kleinmachnow, in southwest Berlin.

They shared a mobile phone photo of the animal with the police and the police believe the photos are real, said Michael Grubert, mayor of Kleinmachnow, during a press conference.

The animal was later also noticed by police officers, said Kerstin Schroeder, police spokesperson in the Brandenburg region.

Brandenburg police issued a warning to the public about the animal’s presence, initially only the south-western suburbs and later a larger part of the search area.

Despite a large-scale operation with dozens of police officers, drones, helicopters and infrared cameras, there was still no sign of the animal on Thursday afternoon.

Mayor Grubert warned residents to comply with the police’s advice to “not leave the house, if possible”, and to keep pets indoors as well. “Now is definitely not the time to go running in the forest,” he added.

Given the lack of confirmed new sightings, the animal probably did not stray far from the Kleinmachnow area where it was first spotted.

Hunters and vets are also taking part in the search, along with officers from the neighboring Berlin police force.

It is not yet clear where the cat came from. No zoos or circuses have reported any big cats missing, Grubert added.

Michel Rogall, a circus director in neighboring Teltow, who was knocked awake by the police at 02:00, said it was possible the animal might not be a lion at all. “If it’s a lion, I’ll eat my hat,” he told the Tagesspiegelnewspaper said.

Mayor Grubert said the Kleinmachnow municipality decided to keep daycare centers open, but requested that caregivers not play outside with children.

Vendors at a local market were also asked not to open their stalls.

Grubert added that he is “very, very grateful” that it is a school holiday, so there is not any concern about children walking to school or home.

Thorsten Thaddey went jogging in the morning when the police stopped him and warned that a wild animal might be in the nearby forest.

“I have to be honest, I was quite panicked. It’s a bit of a different caliber than a normal dog or other pet that ran away,” he told AFP. “So I’m going to run home now.”

Once the animal is found, it will probably be sedated and then taken to an animal shelter, Grubert said.

Anyone who encounters the cat should not approach it, seek shelter and contact the police on the 110 emergency number.

This is not the first time Germans have been warned about wild animals on the loose.

Residents of Erfurt were surprised in May by a kangaroo that hopped across a busy street after escaping from a private property.

In 2019, it took a few days before a deadly cobra was caught again in Herne. Residents were told to keep their windows up and stay away from tall grass.

Zoo owners had to shoot a lion dead in 2016 after he escaped from his cage in Leipzig and anesthesia did not stop the animal.