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article imageLion roaming the streets of Virginia town prompts 911 calls

By Greta McClain     Jan 10, 2013 in Odd News
Norfolk - Residents of one Virginia town called 911 in a panic when they discovered a "lion" running through the streets of their neighborhood.
Norfolk, VA. residents flooded the police 911 system on Tuesday, telling dispatchers that a lion was running loose in a busy section of town. Dispatchers could not believe their ears as callers described what they saw, with one dispatcher asking the caller to please repeat himself. Before he could, another woman took the phone from the caller and said:
“There was a lion that ran across the street. A baby lion. It was about the size of a Labrador retriever. It was near Granby and 38th. It’s roaming loose in the neighborhood.”
Another call came in, with the caller stating:
“I just saw an animal that looked like a small lion. It had the mange and everything. I don’t know if it got away from the zoo, or what.”
As officers were responding to the strange sighting, they checked with the Norfolk Zoo to make sure their two lions were in their cages. The lions were indeed where they should be, soundly sleeping in their cage. It turned out that residents actually saw a Labradoodle named Charles the Monarch, or CTM to his fans.
Natalie Painter, owner of Charles the Monarch, is a student at Old Dominion University (ODU). Painter had the groomer trim Charles so he looked like the school's mascot, which just so happens to be a lion. Painter told ABC News:
"He was just roaming around. He does his own thing a lot of the time. He visits the locals on the street and walks on the sidewalk shop to shop. He was walking around, and he does look a lot like a lion. So I guess some concerned citizens thought there was a lion."
Charles the Monarch poses with the ODU mascot.
Charles the Monarch poses with the ODU mascot.
Charles the Monarch/Facebook
CTM is a bit of a celebrity in the area, frequently appearing at football tailgate parties and around the ODU campus. He even has is own Facebook page with more than 32,000 fans.
This is not the first time CTM has been mistaken as a real lion. According to a CBS News report, people have reported Charles as an escaped lion from the zoo in the past. Painter goes on to say:
"I've seen 'em literally dive through the window to get in the car thinking a lion is after them."
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