Police have called off a search for a lion reportedly on the loose in Essex.
Officers have spent almost 24 hours combing the countryside around Clacton-on-Sea after a group of residents yesterday claimed to have seen the king of the jungle near Earls Hall Drive in St Osyth.
But after search teams found no evidence of the big cat, the force this afternoon decided to stop looking.
Denise Martin was the first to spot the suspected lion yesterday evening from the windows of her caravan near Clacton. She said it was tan coloured with a white chest.
Mrs Martin, from Canvey Island, was spending the Bank Holiday weekend at the site with her husband, and brother.
– Denise Martin, Eyewitness
"I was looking out of the window and we saw smoke - it looked like there had been a bit of a bonfire. When you are in a caravan you panic about smoke,"
"When the smoke cleared I could see this shape in the field, so I got the binoculars out. We had a look and it looked like a lion.
"I said to my husband 'What do you make of that?' He said 'That's a lion.' We walked out of the caravan nearer to the field to get a better look.
"Five or 10 minutes later we got my brother and my sister-in-law to have a look. They came and looked at it and said 'It looks like a lion.' My husband phoned the police."
Police hunting a lion believed to be on the loose in Essex were contacted by locals who had taken a photograph of the big cat.
Roger Lord, of Earls Hall Farm, St Osyth, said a picture of the suspected lion was taken by residents in caravans on the farm land and passed to police.
– Roger Lord, of Earls Hall Farm, St Osyth
"I am sceptical - I think it might just well be a large domestic cat but they certainly saw something that they were were concerned about and they went down the right route to the police.
"They have taken it very seriously and have put two helicopters up in the air and I don't know how many armed police that we still have on site now. They have taken it very seriously."
Residents in parts of Essex are being warned to stay indoors after reports of a lion on the loose.
Firearms officers and police helicopters have been searching for the lion overnight.
A Essex Police spokeswoman says once it's light, officers will look for signs it had been there, such as pawprints.
Police are continuing to hunt a lion that's thought to be on the loose in Essex. Officers have enlisted the help of experts from Colchester Zoo who believe the sighting to be genuine.
Pub landlord Dave Sparks, who runs the Red Lion pub in St Osyth, says the police hunt is "surreal".
Firearms officers and police helicopters have joined the hunt for a lion that is thought to be roaming loose in Essex.
Residents have been told to stay indoors as search teams worked through the night to track down the large cat, which was spotted in a field by a member of the public last night.