THE man who reported a lion sighting to police in Grays on Tuesday remains convinced what he saw was not a domestic cat.

Graham Bowers, 61, was with five other men in Cherry Tree Close, when he made the call to police.

They all believe the cat they saw was a mountain lion or a cougar, and police, who Mr Bowers said arrived an hour after his call, did not catch a glimpse of it, and decided it must have been a large domestic cat after finding one in Thameside Junior School’s grounds.

Mr Bowers said: “There were five grown men watching this cat, including my nephew and my brother.

“We’re not stupid, we were flabbergasted at the size of this cat.

“We believe it was a mountain lion or a cougar, it was too big to be a normal cat.

“It is dangerous, and could eat a small child.”

Mr Bowers said the container the cat in the picture was sitting on in the school’s grounds, was around 40ft long, which he believes demonstrates its size, he said it lay there for about an hour enjoying sunning itself.

He added: “We were monitoring the cat for about an hour before the police came, we urged the officer to come upstairs in the house so he could see better, as there were bushes in the way from the ground, but he wouldn’t, then there was noise from the scrapyard nearby and the cat jumped down out of view.

“After the first officer had gone, an armed police unit came down, and one of the officers said he had been involved in the search for the lion in Clacton.

“They showed us a picture of a normal domestic cat and said how big they can get.

“We’re not thick, it wasn’t what we saw.

“I thought the police were really inefficient, I was really angry.”

Mr Bowers said the picture was taken on his camera phone, and believes if he can get better camera with a zoom and find the cat again, it will reveal the truth.

We sent Mr Bowers’ picture to a cougar expert Christopher Spatz from the Eastern Cougar Foundation in New York, and he said he thought it was a domestic cat.

He said: “Based on the body proportions, it looks like a house cat.”


However, Tim Dunbar at the Mountain Lion Foundation in California said he couldn’t say for sure what type of cat the animal pictured is.

He said: “The quality of the photo makes it impossible to state that the animal displayed is or is not a mountain lion.”

Essex Police confirmed it did send an armed response unit to the scene.

A spokesman said: “An armed response unit was sent at the same time as the other officer, but was stood down when there was no sign of the cat.”