Saturday 1 December 2007

Reading 'panther'.

From the Reading Evening Post (UK): 23 Nov. 2007
Trail of the black panther
A black panther could be on the loose in Caversham Park Village after a large cat with orange eyes was spotted sauntering across a field. Geoff and Sylvia Killgallon, of Littlestead Close, say they watched the unidentified beast for up to 10 minutes as it surveyed the area and lunged at a pheasant. Retired Mr Killgallon, 68, said: "My wife was in the kitchen with her hairdresser and said 'come and look at this'. "My first reaction was 'bloody hell', and I rushed upstairs to get some binoculars. "It was in a field out towards Dunsden Green. It was so big I don't think it could have been a domestic cat. My wife was convinced it was a panther. "It walked up the field swishing its tail before it looked round towards us. "My wife says she observed pointed ears and orange eyes." He added: "I don't think it was hunting anything but it looked through the hedge and a pheasant walked behind it. "It made a lunge at it but the pheasant flew off. "It walked further along, looking around and looking quite relaxed. "It was so big and had a very long tail which curved up. "I don't think it was fully grown but it looked healthy and well nourished." Mr Killgallon said he and his wife have looked out for the formidable feline every morning since the siting at 9.45am on Tuesday last week without success. Black panthers, or melanistic leopards, are thought to be among the most frequently spotted big cats in Britain.
Jo Barr from the RSPCA said big cats do escape from private collections and that a wild lynx had been found roaming the streets of London in 2001. She told the Evening Post: "We do get calls about these occasionally. Obviously, it's a potentially dangerous wild animal so it is often more of a police matter. "One possibility is that it is a very large domestic cat. "However, it is always a possibility a big cat has escaped from a private collection, which has to be licensed under the Dangerous Wild Animals Act 1976." Reading Borough Council confirmed it had not issued any such licences, while South Oxfordshire District Council has issued just one, to a bison owner. Miss Barr added: "We do get reports from time to time but the majority turn out to be unsubstantiated. "This is one of the more unusual sightings as they tend to come from more open and exposed areas like Exmoor and Dartmoor."
The RSPCA advises anyone coming into contact with a big cat to report it to their local authority.

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