Lion on the loose in Maniwaki
Updated: Wed Apr. 30 2008 15:11:43
Quebec police are on the hunt for a lion on the loose on a native reserve in Maniwaki, Que., about two hours north of Ottawa.
A helicopter and a search party wielding a heat-detection device were scouring the area Wednesday for the 150-pound male African lion, which escaped from a pen at a house sometime on Tuesday.
"What we've heard is he left the house," said Melanie Larouche, a spokeswoman for Quebec provincial police. "He was a domestic pet."
The large cat was last spotted beside Highway 105, near Maniwaki.
The lion is between one and two years old and the cat's owner insists his pet is not dangerous.
Police are taking precautions, however, and a local school was put into lockdown Wednesday afternoon.
The search party hunting for the cat includes police, provincial wildlife officials, a police helicopter flown in from Montreal, sophisticated heat-detection equipment and the lion's owner.
Police declined to say whether the lion's owner could face legal repercussions for keeping a large beast as his pet.
"He's helping with the search. For now, we're focusing on the search," Larouche said.
An official at Quebec's Natural Resources Department said in an interview that someone would need a permit to keep such an animal at home.
"We have issued no lion permits in the area," said regional spokeswoman Catherine Rooney.
Police are asking anyone who spots the lion to stay far away and call 819-310-4141.
With files from The Canadian Press