French authorities hunting for a tiger on the loose near Paris said they are now hunting for a big cat afterall after experts' analysis ruled out the animal is a tiger.
The prefecture of the Seine-et-Marne district said the animal that has eluded a huge security effort to track it down for more than 36 hours is indeed a feline but not of the feared biggest species -- the Panthera tigris.
"The presence of an animal of the tiger species is now excluded," the prefecture said, citing results of an analysis carried out by the National Hunting and Wildlife Agency (ONCFS) and a local wildcat Animal Park, the Parc des Felins.
"The feline sighted yesterday and this morning is still being sought."
Authorities did not provide any further explanations but repeated warnings urging local residents to remain indoors and not to approach the animal but call police if they see it.
They advised inhabitants in Ferrières-en-Brie -- where the former tiger was last spotted -- Villeneuve-Saint-Denis and Pontcarré to use vehicles for transportation instead of walking.
People who bump into the animal should remain calm and avoid running and screaming, the prefecture said.
The big cat was first sighted in Montevrain, a village about 35km east of Paris near the Euro Disney theme park, with one resident taking a photo of it.
"My wife saw it," Jean-Baptiste Berdeaux, told AFP news agency. "She didn't get out of the car and called me to say 'I think I saw a lynx'."
Overnight the animal apparently managed to cross the busy A4 motorway and was spotted again in the morning near a Total petrol station in Ferrieres-en-Brie some 10km from Montevrain.
Paw prints were found nearby and huntsmen helping the search initially claimed they were consistent with a young tiger, weighting 70 to 100 kilogrammes.
More than 100 policemen and firefighters armed with tranquilliser guns and backed by vehicles and a helicopter equipped with thermal-imaging camera were deployed to hunt the animal.
The origins of the cat remain a mystery. The nearby Disneyland Paris theme park said it has no tigers and the Parc des Felins zoological park, denied any of its cats was missing.