Does this grainy video show a lion roaming through a California neighborhood?

Officials for the city of Norwalk, California, released footage of what appears to be a mountain lion roaming around a suburban neighborhood, but authorities say it's not. (City of Norwalk)

“This is the security cam video showing what appears to be a mountain lion,” reads an Aug. 1 update on the Facebook page for the city of Norwalk, Calif., a suburb of Los Angeles.

Go ahead and watch the video. It’s pretty cool! I mean, look at that thing. It appears to be a giant cat, just hangin’ in Southern California at 3:44 a.m., because this animal is out there, living an extremely chill life.

Except …

Guys …

Here’s the thing …

That’s no mountain lion.

At least that’s according to the next update on Norwalk’s Facebook page, which begins: “‘That’s No Mountain Lion’ Says CA Dept Fish & Wildlife Expert.” Okay! Um … where does that leave us, then?

“It’s a conundrum!” said Jeff Hobbs, the city’s public information officer, when contacted by The Washington Post on Monday.

It is indeed. Hobbs said a woman reviewing her home security system discovered the footage and turned over the recordings. The film was examined by officials, who determined the animal wasn’t a mountain lion. The mystery creature remains at large.

There are already some solid theories about its back story. It could, for example, be an illegal pet lion that has wandered from its home, or perhaps it’s a circus escapee. (As Hobbs called it, a “lion on the lam.”) (LOL.)

“I’ve watched enough of the Discovery Channel to think that’s an old lion. … I don’t know, I hope that’s not the case, because that’s illegal,” Hobbs said. “You’re not supposed to be doing that.”

Keeping exotic, large cats as pets is generally frowned upon. For what it’s worth, it’s also sometimes not great to keep pets that are groomed in such a way that they might look like exotic, large cats, because occasionally people make mistakes.

The good news? “It certainly doesn’t seem like a menacing, aggressive animal,” Hobbs said. So at least there’s that.

Sarah Larimer is a general assignment reporter for the Washington Post.
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