A Lioness Hunt? No, A Wild Boar Chase!
By: Angelina Wang
On the outskirts of Berlin, Germany, one blurry video initiated the frenzied chaos of a misguided search for an escaped lioness who was thought to be chasing a wild boar. Officers worked with hundreds of police officers equipped with riot gear, drones, and helicopters to capture the wild animal, searching day and night. However, the case was closed and authorities announced that what had been mistaken for a lion was actually a wild boar.
The chase for the non-existent lioness started when two men recorded a short grainy video of what they claimed was a lion chasing a boar; they reported the “case” to the police around midnight on Thursday. Alarmed, the police began a search which quickly escalated.
As a team of 100+ officers were deployed, the police back at the station were hard at work too. They were determined to find the origin of the lioness and to keep everyone safe from harm.
“They asked if we are missing a lion,” said Dinara Rogall, who helps run Circus Rogall in Teltow. The police had contacted the circus in hopes of finding the lioness’ home, but to no avail.
Following unfruitful calls to the circus, alerts were immediately sent to local residents. News stations and social media strongly advised them to avoid or cancel any outdoor activities and to stay safe inside.
“The atmosphere was quite tense,” Uda Bastians, who lives in Kleinmachnow, said in an interview. “There weren’t many people in the street, and the people you met, everyone was a bit afraid.”
Police strategically combed through heavily wooded areas and forests, desperate to find clues about where the big cat might be.
Meanwhile, a dedicated team from a nearby zoo swiftly mobilized, racing to the stakeout with tranquilizer guns, ready to subdue the lioness if spotted. Another team of skilled hunters stood at the ready, waiting to be deployed at a moment's notice.
Ms. Bastians commented on the first day of the search, stating, “Then the longer the search took, the less everyone cared. Everyone was still, ‘OK, we don’t go into the woods and don’t let our dogs run free.’ But you can’t stay in your garden for two days.”
As night crept up, the first search day was almost over; the only clue authorities received were from residents who claimed they had heard loud lion-like roars from a nearby forest. Subsequently, a German television network delved into the origins of the resounding roars that had captured international attention as headline news. They discovered that the source of the uproar was nothing more than mischievous teenagers playfully amplifying animal noises through a speaker.
The decision to call-off the search was made after a resident called to say they had seen the terrifying animal. Police immediately sent a drone to investigate from a bird’s eye view, along with a team of 30 officers on stand-by. But they found absolutely nothing except a group of wild boars.
Everyone was stunned, confused at the mix-up they had all made. How could it have been a wild boar all along? How could they have mixed up two very different species? The announcement that it had been a false alarm came as a “huge surprise” says Bastians.
“A wild boar doesn’t really look like a lion, and we have a lot of wild boars,” she said. “Everyone has seen wild boars, and we all know lions from boars.”
Heribert Hofer, the director of the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research, says it is common for people to easily mix up different kinds of animals. According to Hofer, there have even been crocodile sightings that were, in reality, just a goose or large duck.
In this case, Hofer says that some of the characteristics of a lioness are present in the video. But, there were other factors — like the length of the creature’s tail and a young boar running through the frame — that made him question the true identity of the wild animal.
“I can see some of the reasons for confusion,” he said.
At the news conference on Friday, Grubert implored reporters to consider the risks that could have arisen from not taking the reports seriously, and talked about how lucky the city residents were this time.
“Imagine if it had been the other way around,” he said.