The lion’s roar…

Some say there’s a lion of the loose in Essex – what’s the law got to say about loose beasts? (Image from Twitter)

As we all know, a lion is definitely on the loose in Essex. How do we know this? Well, from a distance someone saw a ‘large cat’ and to back up the theory that it must have been a lion, another resident heard a ‘loud roar’.

But this strong evidence together and you’ve got a lion on your hands, Essex Police.

Now, whilst there’s no suggestion at all that the lion might be heading towards the West Midlands, at the same time it won’t hurt anybody to be prepared should it step off a train at New Street.

Keeping up with the law theme of this blog then, here are a few lion related offences that you’ll want to bring yourself up to speed on, alongside some practical tips to follow in these lion-troubled times.

Starting with the criminal law side, here are the main ones -

S. 45 of the Protection From Harassment (Lions) Act 1966 – This makes it an offence for a lion to act in such a way so to cause any person within a five mile radius to feel harassment, alarm or distress as a result of a particularly loud roar or fierce baring of teeth.

S. 1 of the Zoos (Lions) Act 1981 – One of the most important lion laws on the statute books, this makes it illegal for a lawfully detained lion to escape, or attempt to escape, its enclosure. It also makes it an offence to harbor an escaped lion.

S. 78 & 79 of the Lions on Public Transport (Amendment) Act 1993 – Relevant to the use of public transport by loose zoo animals, this nifty bit of legislation makes it a crime for a lion or other ‘animal that would usually find residence in a zoo’ to board any form of public transport without a valid ticket.

Section 79(1) of the same Act dictates that a large animal (boar or larger) must buy tickets for two adjoining seats, so if you’re a ticket inspector on the West Coast Mainline then look out for this one.

The Prevention of the Disguise of Common Beasts Act 1763 – An old one but still applicable today, this law states that it is illegal for any person to attempt to pass a lion off as a human by putting on it makeup, clothes, hats, wigs, shoes, or any other ‘article of mankind’.

So those are the main laws that the cops in Essex will be looking to apply. All carry the power of arrest so if/when this furry fugitive is apprehended, they’ll throw him or her into the largest caged van they’ve got and transport back to the station for an interview.

What should you do if worst comes to worst though and you find yourself face to face with the Essex Lion?

If you’ve seen the Wizard of Oz, you’ll already know that as fierce as the lion might look, it’s actually more scared of you than you are of it. Yes it may be circling you and showing you row after row of sharp teeth but ignore this – it’s just a show. Inside it’ll be trembling.

Stay calm and don’t panic. Presumably you’ll be carrying a whip and a chair so it’ll not take many cracks of the whip before the lion is sent running off into the distance with its tail between its legs.

Alternatively you could do what we do every time there are reports in the paper that there’s a big cat on the loose on Cannock Chase – take them with a rather large pinch of catnip.

There could be a lion on the loose in Essex, the police probably wouldn’t have sent their helicopter and armed response units searching if they disbelieved it entirely.

At the same time it definitely is your Bank Holiday so if I were you I’d make the most of it and go on safari!

28/08/2012 – As of yesterday afternoon Essex Police called off their search, no doubt because they had extinguished all lions of enquiry. I’ve been thinking though, maybe the eyewitnesses mistook the lion for the tiger that definitely wasn’t let out from London Zoo during last year’s riots? Just a thought…

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