Mystery lion sightings captivate Milwaukee residents

Mon Jul 27, 2015 6:48pm EDT
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By Brendan O'Brien

MILWAUKEE (Reuters) - Nicole Anderson rode along a busy Milwaukee thoroughfare where she got plenty of stares, double takes and fingers pointing at her not only because she was nude, but because she was painted head to toe like a lion.

Interest in all things lions has reached new heights in Milwaukee as the city's fixation with its feline version of Bigfoot - does it exist and is it really a lion? - has dominated local news, water-cooler talk and social media.

Milwaukeeans are captivated by the possibility that a lion is roaming their city.

"We found the Milwaukee lion," proudly proclaimed Ken Kenitz, as he sped along with Anderson, who was covered in bronze body paint while wearing fake white whiskers, fluffy ears and long black fingernails.

Kenitz, a body painter, and Anderson, his canvass, had just finished a photo shoot at several city landmarks as a way to document the lion craze that has consumed Milwaukee after several "lion-like animal" sightings were reported to police during the last week.

Many residents also fear for the lion's well-being. On Tuesday, a pit bull was shot in the paw when a gunman thought he had the large cat in his sights.

"I would only shoot it as a last resort .... I hope they can tranquilize it," said Reggie Bonds as he did maintenance work around two stone lions outside of a Milwaukee funeral home. "I am wondering how it got here, but it probably was someone's pet."

Wisconsin is one of six states that do not prohibit the owning of a lion as a pet, but Milwaukee ordinance bans ownership of dangerous animals.   Continued...