MARSHALL, TX (KLTV) - UPDATE 05/28/2010 - Thursday, the Marshall Police Department received several reports that there was a lion loose near the train depot. Authorities searched the area, some even carrying high powered rifles in case the animal had to be taken down. Friday, authorities said they had received no new reports and they are no longer searching for the lion.
MARSHALL, TX (KLTV) - Is anyone out there missing a 300 pound African lion? If so, it might have been seen walking the streets of Marshall Thursday. It certainly put a scare into the locals for a few hours. It had police and animal control taking unusual measures - just in case.
Passengers waiting for the 8 a.m. Amtrak in Marshall say they caught a glimpse of something they could not believe strolling through the grass near the depot museum.
"We came to work and there was some police activity and people moving around," said Shawn Hagerty. "One of the train passengers had a lion sighting."
"He told our gentleman that worked here at the depot that there was a lion out in the yard out there," said Hal Emmons, manager at the depot museum.
One witness was adamant, saying he was sure it was a lion.
"He said he knew a mountain lion from and African lion and he said this was an African lion," said Emmons.
Police and animal control saturated the area - some even carrying high powered rifles in case the animal had to be taken down. Locals at Oh-Connors were warned to stay inside.
"They were telling us to stay close to the building stay indoors because that possible threat really is there," said Hagerty. "As long as there is a remote possibility of something like that it does need to be checked out."
"Quite a buzz was created by that," said Emmons. "A lot of people came in wanting to see the lion or had we seen it."
The witness account in this case said that this animal had a tan color to it, and African lions do have a dusty tan color which makes them practically disappear in tall brown grass.
After several hours of tracking, there was no sign of the big cat, but an urban legend has already begun.
"We might have to get a stuffed lion and maybe move him around," said Emmons.
Wildlife experts say it was likely a large bobcat or even a cougar, but if it was there it is a sure bet it will show up again.
Marshall Police did confirm there were several sightings of the big cat. But, so far, there have been no reports of anyone who has lost or misplaced an African lion.