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Is a lion on the loose in California, or is it just an old pit bull?

Residents in Norwalk, Calif., are on edge after a surveillance camera recently captured a mysterious animal prowling the area. The City of Norwalk issued a word of caution to their Facebook followers on July 31:

Large Wild Cat Spotted in Norwalk Neighborhood

· Resident’s home security camera videotaped the cat in the early morning hours (video file attached)

· Video shows what appears to be an aged lion, although resident reported as a “mountain lion”

· City contacted Fish & Game department per protocol – no formal action or investigation yet

· City wants to alert residents to be on the lookout

· No further sightings since

· Video appears to be authentic, so no suspected hoax

· Animal was not aggressive – moves slowly as if aged

· Residents should call local law enforcement if they see the animal

Since the release of the surveillance footage, the intrigue and the speculations have grown, as have the opinions about the true identity of the animal.

In the August 1 publication of the Los Angeles Times, Craig Packer, a professor at the University of Minnesota Lion Research Center and author of “Into Africa,” provided his professional insight after watching the video - he stated:

"Yes, it certainly does look like an African lion. It’s not a cougar.”

The same publication offers insight from yet another professional who has a completely benign explanation for the roaming animal. California Department of Fish and Wildlife game warden Don Nelson believes that the animal is nothing more than an old dog - he stated:

My guess is it's a large older dog, maybe a pit bull or part pit bull,"

"There was nothing pointing toward 'mountain lion.'"

Yet another expert offered up "leopard" as the likely choice after looking at the ears and the estimated height of the animal.

Until the mystery is solved, residents in the area are being advised to keep their pets indoors and to watch their children closely. If the animal is indeed an African lion, where he or she might have escaped from is a mystery; to date, nobody has come forward to report their pet lion as missing.

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