Mystery animal puts Norwalk in the spotlight

NORWALK – Norwalk was the center of the media world this week after home surveillance footage showing a mysterious four-legged creature went viral on the internet. A resident who lives on the 11000 block of Tina Street discovered the footage after examining surveillance video from the early morning hours of July 29.

The grainy black and white video shows a cat-like animal slinking across a driveway and out of view.

The homeowner handed over the footage to City Hall, which consulted with the state Department of Fish and Game on a course of action. Experts there couldn’t determine what the animal was, only that it was not a mountain lion.

Norwalk officials posted the video on the city’s Facebook page, where it garnered dozens of “likes” and nearly 200 shares.  Dozens of people left comments, speculating on the type of animal captured on the video (a lioness was a popular guess).

Major media outlets picked up the story, including CNN, the “Today” show, the New York Daily News, and London’s Daily Telegraph. Mayor Marcel Rodarte was interviewed by “Inside Edition.”

“It’s just one of those things that really captures people’s interest,” Jeff Hobbs, Norwalk’s communications director, said of the story’s popularity. “When you have different opinions, it becomes fun. But we don’t want it to become so fun that residents forget to be mindful that this animal – whatever it is – is still out there.”

Hobbs says he has fielded “hundreds” of phone calls and emails from media around the country (“I just got off the phone with the New York Times,” he said Tuesday) and even more correspondence from armchair zoologists eager to help.

Officials with the University of Minnesota even reached out to Norwalk, offering to lend a hand.

“This is helping us determine the process of what to do when you see a lion in your neighborhood,” Hobbs said with a laugh. “What do you do, who do you call.”

Whatever it is, the sheriff’s department has increased patrols on Tina Street and city officials are urging residents to stay on the lookout for any unusual animal sightings.



Published: Aug. 7, 2014 - Volume 13 - Issue 17