The recent sensationalized story about the lion wandering around Essex, England prompts me to ask “Are the British able to assess the size of big cats?” I wonder whether the British know what these cats are really like. I would certainly doubt if the average British person knew much about the wild cat species generally. We are too far removed from them. This lack of knowledge coupled with a superstitious nature has resulted in an endless stream of big cat sightings in the British countryside over decades. It is also a journalistic habit to discuss big cat sightings in the UK.
Above is a poor quality picture that I have annotated to show how misjudged the assessment was (on my own assessment which is open to criticism). One of the key elements, in my opinion, for judging the size of this cat was the ragged hedge at the end of the field. These are normally about 5-6 feet tall.
The headline news story (for the Daily Mail) was of a lion or possibly a puma, wandering around an area near to St. Osyth, Essex, UK. People had seen it with their own eyes and even heard the roar (the power of suggestion). The Times journalist said it was the length of two sheep. She saw it for a full 20 minutes before it ambled off. The Google map shows the spot. Typical near-suburban England.
A ton of police where called out including marksmen and a helicopter. I thought “please don’t shoot the tiger!” I shouldn’t have worried because it is another one of those British Big Cat Sightings. We do like them and the press does too. They are along the lines of the Loch Ness Monster. I wonder whether this is a subconscious desire by the British people to reinstate our large wildlife that we so efficiently exterminated hundreds of years ago?
In the UK there has been the following large animal sightings. The large cats are often black to add to the mystery:
- Wales – Dog of Darkness
- Cu Sith – a dog the size of a calf
- Beast of Bodmin Moor – Devon, England
- Beast of Exmoor – Cornwall, England
- Galloway Puma – Scotland
- Surrey Puma – Surrey, England
- Sheppey Panther – Sheppey, England
- Cheetah of Shooters Hill – London, England?
- Essex Lion – the current story.
My feeling is that there is a desire to see large animals in the wild in the UK and there is a certain amount of superstition but above all at a distance Brits cannot assess the size of large wild cat species.
The Essex lion story concluded with a person going up the the “lion” and seeing that it was a large ginger domestic cat with a slight ruff! They are great domestic cats. James Bowen and Bob are a famous duo. And ginger cats are often large and the boss in a group. The Essex Lion may be a cat named, “Teddy Bear”. Meow..er no, I mean roar..