Police responding to reports of a “large apex predator” on the loose in a small town were surprised when they turned out to be “true”.
Officers near Steyning, West Sussex, arrived to find what looks at first glance like a black-furred big cat on a park bench.
Horsham Police said on Twitter early on Friday morning: “Reports of a large apex predator in the Steyning area turned out to be true.
“It may be a stuffed toy, but the attending officers didn’t necessarily know that at first.”
An “apex predator” is an animal considered to be at the top of a food chain – such as a tiger, lion, leopard shark or crocodile.
The local police division – part of Sussex Police – posted a picture of the toy predator in the dark, lit by their vehicle’s headlights.
Reports of a large apex predator in the Steyning area turned out to be true. It may be a stuffed toy, but the attending officers didn't necessarily know that at first. 😲#cw568pic.twitter.com/9awKt4kW62
— Horsham Police (@Horsham_police) July 24, 2020
Reported “sightings” of big cats in Britain that turn out to be stuffed toys are not uncommon.
Last year the RSPCA were called out to a report of a tiger being kept in a cramped cage in Exeter, Devon, but it too turned out to be a soft toy.
RSPCA inspector Marije Zwager said: “They were persistent this is what they’d seen and I wasn’t quite sure what to expect but soon realised that it wasn’t a tiger at all, it was just a soft toy.
“He’s called Tiddles the Tiger and shares his home with two male neutered rabbits called Horace and Boris, who have a fantastic home filled with all kinds of enrichment and entertainment to keep them happy and healthy.”