"I'm convinced it's a 300-pound to 400-pound African lion," deputy police chief Larry Rinehart said. "We're scurrying. It's a heck of a day."
Television helicopters are hovering over the city trying to spot the big cat. Police contacted the Columbus Zoo for advice on what to do if they find the animal. The Ohio Highway Patrol had a helicopter on standby, in case it was needed.
Residents first reported seeing the animal on Monday. One police cruiser was stopped on a street when the animal bounded across the pavement in front of it.
Rinehart said he didn't know how the lion ended up in the residential areas on the western edge of Columbus, not far from Port Columbus International airport.
"That's the mystery," Rinehart said. "Whoever had it is not giving that information up. There are some lions that are legally owned in adjoining counties and they're all accounted for."