A black panther was reportedly ‘photographed’ on Rodborough common and the rooftops of Stroud over the weekend, but is there a big cat in the district?
Even though we may barely recognize our lives as they were a year ago, there are some facts that remain the same. The law of gravity, the laws of thermodynamics, and the lesser-known law of small English towns: Each year someone ‘spots’ a big cat.
Some ‘sightings’ are more convincing than others, and rumors circulate that after the Dangerous and Wild Animals Act, 1976, owners of exotic pets released them rather than go to the expense of obeying the law.
The focus of last week’s puma panic was a photo posted in Spotted: Stroud, Stonehouse etc. on Friday which appeared to show a large black mammal roaming the fields of Rodborough.
“BIG BLACK CAT SPOTTED!” read the post.
“I was walking along Rodborough common Monday evening and my girlfriend pointed out a “strange looking dog”.
“As we got closer I realised it was not a dog, it was a huge black cat! It looked like a Jaguar.”
On closer inspection, however, the image appears very similar to one published by ITV in 2019 in an article titled: Woman left ‘terrified’ after black panther sighting in Cotswolds.
On Sunday, another image appeared on the Facebook page, this time apparently showing a big black cat prowling the rooftops.
Undoubtedly the photo is real and the animal is terrifying; that is, if you lived in Lille, France, in the year 2019.
The image has been lifted straight from La Voix du Nord, showing a six-year-old panther taking a stroll through a small French town.
Are there big cats in the UK? Possibly. After all, the Ministry of Agriculture commissioned an investigation into the possibility that exotic cats were killing livestock on Bodmin Moor, Cornwall, in 1995 (though the report concluded there was no evidence of one).
Were there big cats in Stroud last weekend? Probably not. Though I’d watch out for mine if she ever makes it to Rodborough.