Big cat roaming Milwaukee could be someone's pet, exotic animal expert says

An expert on exotic felines believes a big cat that has been reported to be stalking a Milwaukee neighborhood is someone’s pet.

Jill Carnegie told Fox6 News Wednesday that the video that possibly shows a lion roaming the north side neighborhood could be a cougar and not a lion after all.

“I feel very confident it is a male cougar,” Carnegie told the station. “You tell by the size. It’s a very well-fed cougar,” she said.

Carnegie has been taking care of exotic pets for 43 years at Valley of the Kings animal sanctuary in Sharon, Wisc. It is home for dozens of exotic felines.

She said while cougars have been seen in Wisconsin before, she doesn’t think the animal on the loose in the city has lived in the wild for long.

“I believe truly that it is somebody’s pet,” Carnegie said. She believes there is a great possibility the animal is back at home where it came from.

Milwaukee police say a woman reported seeing a lion Monday afternoon in the north side neighborhood. Police Chief Edward Flynn says his officers were given cellphone video of a large animal that appeared to be a “lion-ish creature.”

When the officers checked out the neighborhood, they didn’t find anything. The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources was notified and dispatched an employee to check out the claim. Flynn says it was “theoretically possible” a wild cat has made its way south from northern Wisconsin.

A Milwaukee Police Department spokesman told Fox6 News that each time a call is received, officers go out to investigate. However, neither investigation has yielded a lion.

Clearly a bit panicked, a man fired a shot at what he thought was the lion roaming the streets Tuesday. The man thought he had hit the alleged bit cat, but instead hit a pit bull and fractured a bone in its leg, Fox6 News reported.

The incident took place in a neighborhood northwest of downtown at around 6:30 p.m. The man reported his sighting to police. Milwaukee Area Domestic Animal Control Executive Director Karen Sparapani admitted that the reports have gotten people a little fired up.

“Obviously the person who shot this thought they shot a lion,” she told the station. “People tend to be amped up or afraid.”

Animal control officials say they are ready with tranquilizer guns if a big cat is found.

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The Associated Press contributed to this report.