At first glance, the beast certainly seemed to belong to the jungle, rather than near Steyning, West Sussex, where it was spotted.
And when they arrived at the scene, Sussex police were surprised to find that the information appeared to be true: a large black furry cat was indeed leaning on the back of a park bench.
But as shown in a photo of the animal – highlighted by the headlights of the police car – the big cat was actually no more real than the lion of essex that people thought they spotted in 2012.
It was, in fact, just a big plush toy.
Posting on Twitter on Friday morning, Horsham police said: “Reports of a large top predator in the Steyning area turned out to be true.
“It might be a plush toy, but the officers present didn’t necessarily know it at first. ”
Reported “sightings” of large cats in Britain that turn out to be plush toys are not uncommon.
Last year the RSPCA was called to report that a tiger was being kept in a cramped cage in Exeter, Devon, but it also turned out to be a stuffed animal.
RSPCA inspector Marije Zwager said at the time: “They were persistent, that’s what they saw and I wasn’t sure what to expect, but I quickly realized that it wasn’t a tiger at all, it was just a stuffed animal.
“His name is Tiddles the Tiger and shares his home with two castrated male rabbits called Horace and Boris, who have a fantastic house filled with all kinds of enrichment and entertainment to keep them happy and healthy. “