Nellie the Lion

Eastern Puma of Illinois.

Physical description: Large cat. Tawny or yellowish.

Behavior: Attacks humans and cars. Can leap 20 feet.

Tracks: Catlike, 5 inches long and 4 inches wide. Some show claw marks.

Distribution: Area around Decatur, Illinois.

Significant sightings: On July 13, 1917, a large cat attacked butler Thomas Gullett while he was picking flowers on the Robert Allerton estate southwest of Monticello, Illinois. The incident sparked a lion hunt that lasted through the end of the month.

On the night of July 29, 1917, the cat leaped at and struck a car occupied by Earl Hill, Chester Osborn, and their wives on the Springfield Road. It was stunned but left when Hill returned with the police.

Sources: Decatur Herald, July 14-20, 30, and August 1, 1917; Jerome Clark and Loren Coleman, "On the Trail of Pumas, Panthers and ULAs: Part 2," Fate 25 (July 1972): 92-99; Loren Coleman, Mysterious America, rev. ed. (New York: Paraview, 2001), pp. 105-107.

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