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Lion Sightings in Virginia Cause Stir; Turns Out to be a Dog

Norfolk, Virginia saw some excitement on Tuesday as reports of a baby lion were flooding the 911 operating system. The very first call to 911 was calm, “I’d like to report a lion sighting,” the caller said, according to The Virginia-Pilot.

The dispatcher, a little confused, said, “Say that again?” Police announced on Wednesday that at least three calls were made about the lion sighting, with the very first coming in at 10:19 a.m.

The initial caller said that the lion was running down Granby Street. A woman took the phone from the caller and anxiously described the closeness of the zoo.

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“There was a lion that ran across the street. A baby lion. It was about the size of a Labrador retriever.” The female caller said that the lion was close to Granby and 38th. “It’s roaming loose in the neighborhood.”

Just five minutes later, a second call to 911 came into the system.

“I just saw an animal that looked like a small lion.” It had “the mange and everything,” the male caller noted. The caller said that he saw the lion roaming around Delaware Avenue and Llewellyn Avenue.

“I don’t know if it got away from the zoo, or what,” he said.

The dispatcher then told the caller that 911 had received a report earlier about the lion and that, “I’m not sure if it actually is a lion or not, but I’ll update the information.”

Around 1:19 p.m., a third call was made to 911 about the lion. This time, a male caller said, “I just saw a baby lion at Colley Avenue and 50th Street.” The dispatcher asked the caller, “What kind of animal?”

“A lion. A baby lion, maybe.”

The caller noted that the lion had been visiting houses nearby, saying, “I don’t think it has caused any problem so far.” The dispatcher then asked the caller, “OK. You think it’s looking for food?”

“I don’t know.”

As it turned out, the baby lion that caused such a stir is actually a Labrador-poodle mix that is owned by Daniel Painter. Painter lives in Riverview and has a garden center at Colley Avenue. The dog’s name is Charles the Monarch. Painter purposely has the dog groomed so it looks like the mascot from Old Dominion University.

Quite a few people have said that they see Charles roaming around a lot, mostly on Colley, but for those who have never seen him, Charles does not look like a dog. The lion sightings made national news on Wednesday, with Charles appearing on “Today” on NBC.

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