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Do big cats roam rural Britain?

Do big cats roam rural Britain?
by KatKin Team

Read time: 5 min

Something mysterious lurks in the UK countryside. 

Or does it?

That’s the question gripping big cat fanatics across Britain this month. Because filmmakers behind new doc Panthera Britannia Declassified allege they’ve uncovered photographic evidence of a panther-like creature stalking Smallthorne, Staffordshire. 

Found in the archives of a zoology centre, the picture shows a large cat sitting in a grassy field. A mysterious handwritten note discovered alongside the photo suggests the last sighting of this so-called ‘Beast of Smallthorne’ took place on 17th March. (But tantalisingly —or suspiciously— the year remains unknown.)

Producer Tim Whittard claims this is an “amazing new scientific discovery”, calling the picture “astonishing”.

Big cats in British countryside
For Do Big Cats Roam Countryside Blog

So: could it be true?

The story and picture have been widely circulated over the past couple of weeks, stirring up debate across the internet. But most experts remain unconvinced. (And the photo might have already been debunked.) So we won’t be adding panther-friendly fresh recipes to our roster anytime soon. 

Other big cat ‘sightings’

Since the introduction of the 1976 Dangerous Wild Animals Act, reports and sightings of big cats in the UK have trickled in regularly. The law banned private ownership of exotic pets like pumas, lynxes and panthers. And some may have been then released into the wild. 

The ‘Beast of Exmoor’ is the most infamous example. A panther-esque feline seemingly made its way through 100 sheep from a Devonshire farm in 1983. But, despite intervention by the British government (several Royal Marine snipers were put on the case), no such ‘Beast’ was ever found. 

But across the UK, from Scotland to Cornwall, rumoured sightings of large cats like the Beast persist. 

Should you be worried?

Probably not. But don’t venture into the Staffordshire countryside shaking a tube of Chicken Nibbles. (Just in case.)

Images via Firefly Films/SWNS

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