The footage, originally captured by a resident’s surveillance camera “in the early morning hours” and subsequently uploaded to to the City of Norwalk’s Facebook page, has made some people living in the area nervous.
“It’s very trippy,” said neighbor Brian Kitchell. “And I heard about it yesterday and I was like…what? And I’ve been thinking about it….I was afraid to go outside,” he added.
Another resident of Norwalk describes the beast in detail.
“It looks like a dog, but also when you look at the head of it, it looks like it has the pointy ears that the lions have…I don’t know,” Rafael Alvarez explains.
The sighting also has Marcel Rodarte, mayor of the city, wondering as to what the beast really is.
“It looks like a big cat, but then when you look at it again, it could be a dog…so the gait, the way the animal was walking, it kind of looks like it has the characteristics of a cat, but we really don’t know at this point,” Rodarte said.
And although the animal was initially believed to be a mountain lion, the grainy footage is making accurate identification a little complicated.
Some experts, like University of Minnesota Lion Research Center professor Craig Packer, believe this is not a cougar and that it actually looks more like an African lion.
Others suggest it is simpler than that.
“My guess is it’s a large older dog, maybe a pit bull or part pit bull. There was nothing pointing toward mountain lion,” said California Department of Fish and Wildlife game warden Don Nelson.
Joel Almquist, founder of Forever Wild Exotic Animal Sanctuary, says it looked like a dog at first, but that now he believes it could be a leopard.
All of them agree, the animal is not a mountain lion.
So what’s the ‘mystery beast’ that has the city of Norwalk on alert? A lion on the loose? A escaped pet? Or is it just a big dog?
“It’s a feline, not a dog. Cats, bears, and camels have the same gait. They do not alternate their limbs like other animals. ie: right paw forward, left leg forward. Instead, they move their limbs on one side forward at about the same time then alternate the other side. Definitely not a puma (no long tail), my best guess is a young lion (illegal pet),” writes Pavel Gonzalez, a Facebook user who also tried to analyze the video in an attempt to uncover the mystery.
Authorities are alerting the city residents and handling out pamphlets detailing how to prepare in case of an unwanted encounter with the creature.
But people are also worried about their pets.
“I got a German Shepherd and beautiful three Chihuahuas…yes, and I got a rabbit too,” says concerned citizen Arturo Rodriguez.
“We have small dogs and my sister just got a new little dog, so we are just making sure that everyone keeps their pets inside,” said Elizabeth Colon.
The Mayor is trying to spread the word to make sure everyone and their pets are safe.
“We want to make sure that if this is a wild animal, or this is maybe a pet that someone has kept legally, that people are aware to keep an eye out for it. Cause of our goal is to really capture the animal and maybe put it in a safe place, not doing any harm to the animal,” Rodarte said.
In the mean time, an update on the City of Norwalk’s Facebook page shows that “department officials still cannot definitively identify the type of animal” and that “they will continue to investigate”.