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Missing Lynx? Search Continues For Mystery French Feline

This photo provided by the town council of Montevrain, east of Paris, on Thursday shows the mystery feline. The animal was first described as a tiger. Officials now say it's not a tiger, but they aren't sure what it is.

It's not a tiger, but they aren't sure what it is: That's what French police and armed forces have concluded after searching for two days for a mystery beast near Disneyland Paris, one of Europe's top tourist destinations.

The latest sighting of what is being described as a wildcat was Friday morning when truckers spotted it on a main road between Paris and eastern France. It was photographed several times Thursday in the town of Montevrain.

A statement from the Seine-et-Marne, the local administration, said the animal was an unknown feline and urged residents to stay indoors.

The Associated Press reports: "One theory is that the mystery cat could be a lynx — the wildcat once common in France before being hunted out of existence. It was reintroduced in France in the 1970s, according to the wildlife group Ferus. But the nearest known lynx habitat, the Vosges Mountains, is 350 kilometers (215 miles) away from where the cat was first spotted Thursday."

The Guardian adds:

"The alarm was raised on Thursday when a woman spotted an animal near the local supermarket. A dozen fire trucks, a helicopter with heat-seeking equipment, 200 firefighters, gendarmes and police officers armed with stun guns, and a sniffer dog specially trained to track bears and large game spent most of the day searching for the animal, while schoolchildren got a police escort home and local residents were warned to stay indoors."

The search was resumed Friday by dozens of police, who were armed with tranquilizer guns, and soldiers from a nearby base.

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Krishnadev Calamur is NPR's deputy Washington editor. In this role, he helps oversee planning of the Washington desk's news coverage. He also edits NPR's Supreme Court coverage. Previously, Calamur was an editor and staff writer at The Atlantic. This is his second stint at NPR, having previously worked on NPR's website from 2008-15. Calamur received an M.A. in journalism from the University of Missouri.
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