Phantom cats, also known as Alien Big Cats (ABCs) – large felines, such as jaguars, cougars, and leopards – allegedly appear in regions outside their indigenous range. Sightings, tracks and predation have been reported in a number of countries and states including Canada, Britain, Australia, Ireland, New Zealand, Finland, Denmark, Eastern United States, Hawaii, Italy and Luxembourg.
- 1 Australia
- 2 Britain
- 3 Denmark
- 4 Finland
- 5 The Netherlands
- 6 New Zealand
- 7 United States
- 8 Luxembourg
- 9 India
- 10 See also
- 11 References
- 12 External links
Sightings of exotic big cats in Australia began more than 100 years ago. The New South Wales State Government reported in 2003 that it was "more likely than not" that there was a colony of exotic big cats living in the bush near Sydney.
Gippsland phantom cat
In the Gippsland region of south-eastern Victoria, the origin of the cats is claimed[who?] to be American World War II airmen who brought cougars with them as mascots and released them in the Australian Bush.
Blue Mountains Panther
The 'Blue Mountains Panther is a phantom cat reported in sightings in the Blue Mountains area, west of Sydney for over a century. Speculation about the Blue Mountains Panther includes the theory that it descended from either circus or zoo escapees, or is a descendant of a military mascot.
Video footage showing a large black cat near Lithgow was examined by a group of seven zoo, museum, parks and agriculture staff, who concluded that it was a large domestic cat (2–3 times normal size) based partly on its morphology and partly on the behaviour of a nearby normal-sized domestic cat.
The region around Tantanoola, a town in the south-east of South Australia was supposed to have been the stalking ground of The Tantanoola Tiger during the late nineteenth century. In 1895 an animal believed to be the Tantanoola Tiger was shot and identified as an Assyrian wolf. It was stuffed and remains on display in the Tantanoola Hotel.
Sunshine Coast big cats
Since the 1960s, there have been many alleged sightings of big cats across Great Britain. A 15-month survey conducted in 2003-2004 by the British Big Cats Society gave the following regional breakdown, based on 2052 sightings: South West 21%, South East 16%, East Anglia 12%, Scotland 11%, and West Midlands 9%. Since 1903 a number of exotic cats, all of which are thought to have escaped from captivity, have been killed or captured.
In 1995, a big cat usually described as a lion (but sometimes as a lynx) was dubbed the "Beast of Funen" by numerous eyewitnesses. There was an earlier big-cat sighting from 1982 in southern Jutland.
A supposed lion moved around Ruokolahti near the Finnish-Russian border in June-August 1992. There were multiple sightings. Tracks were identified by a government biologist as a big feline not native to Finland. The biologist was given police powers to capture or shoot the lion by the Ministry of Interior. Border guards participated in the hunt. The last reported sightings were in Russia, and there were reports that the lion was seen by Finnish border guards, and that lion tracks were found in the raked sand field used by Russian border guards to detect crossings. The lion was never captured and the incidents have never been explained. One possible explanation could have been a railway accident of a circus train in Russia, where some of the animals escaped.
In 2005 a black cougar was allegedly spotted on several occasions in a wildlife preserve, but the animal, nicknamed Winnie, was later identified as an unusually large crossbreed between a domestic and a wild cat.
Since the late 1990s, big cat sightings have been reported in widely separated parts of New Zealand, in both the North and South Islands. There have been several unverified panther sightings in Mid-Canterbury near Ashburton and in the nearby foothills of the Southern Alps, but searches conducted there in 2003 by the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry found no corroborating physical evidence.
Stories of "mystery big cats" on the island of Maui have circulated since the late 1980s. In December 2002, sightings of a big cat increased in number in the Kula (upcountry) area, and the Division of Forestry and Wildlife requested the help of big cat wildlife biologists William Van Pelt and Stan Cunningham of the Arizona Game and Fish Department. Van Pelt and Cunningham believed the cat was probably a large feline, such as a jaguar, leopard, or cougar. It may have been illegally brought into Hawaii as a pet and released or allowed to wander in the wild. No big cat was detected by traps, infrared cameras, or professional trackers. A fur sample was obtained in 2003 but DNA analysis was inconclusive. The state's hunt for the cat was suspended in late November 2003, after three weeks without sightings. Utah State University professor and wildlife biologist Robert Schmidt expressed strong doubts about the cat's existence, likening it to the Loch Ness monster.
There have been reported sightings of what is believed to be a mountain lion in the northern Delaware forests since the late 1990s. It is believed[by whom?] that the creature lives somewhere in the Pike Creek or White Clay Creek area, as this is where the majority of the numerous sightings have occurred. The Delaware Division of Fish and Wildlife believes there may be more than one mountain lion in Delaware, and that they originate from animals released from captivity.
Black panthers and other large "non-indigenous" cats have been sighted for many years in the vicinity of Oriental, NC. Accounts from locals and visitors alike have been documented in the local papers.
In 2009, a black panther was allegedly spotted in the industrial area of Bommelscheuer near Bascharage. When police came, the panther was gone. In the following couple of days, the panther was spotted all over the country. For a while it was alleged that a panther had escaped a nearby zoo (Amnéville), but the zoo later denied that any panther was missing. A couple of days after the Bascharage incident, it also was mentioned that although the police did not find a panther, they did find an unusually large housecat.
The Pogeyan is a large grey feline known to local people living in the Western Ghats, India.
- Eamonn Duff (2003-11-02). "Big cats not a tall tale". The Sun-Herald. Retrieved 2010-02-09.
- Bill Atkinson (2003). "Report on information available on the reported large black cat in the Blue Mountains". NSW Agriculture. Retrieved 2010-02-09.
- Is something out there? (Map of sightings near Sydney.) Sydney Morning Herald.
- John Henry, "Pumas in the Grampians Mountains: A Compelling Case? An Up-dated Report of the Deakin Puma Study", Deakin University Press, Melbourne, May 2001. Conclusion quoted in Atkinson (2003).
- "Tantanoola". Wattle Range Council. Retrieved 2007-05-31.
- "Millicent". Sydney Morning Herald. February 8, 2004.
- "Men claim evidence of 'panther like' cat in Qld bush". http://www.abc.net.au Australian Broadcasting Corporation. 2009-01-14. Retrieved 2009-01-15. External link in
- "Cold water poured on 'big cat' claims". http://www.abc.net.au/ Australian Broadcasting Corporation. 2009-01-14. Retrieved 2009-01-15. External link in
- "More big cats recorded". BBC News. 2002-01-28. Retrieved 2010-02-09.
- "Big Cat evidence gets stronger, as society calls for government study". British Big Cats Society. Retrieved 2010-02-09.
- Rebecca Morelle (25 April 2013). "'Big cat' Canadian lynx was on the loose in UK in 1903". BBC News. Retrieved 30 April 2013.
- Chris Smith. "Felicity the Puma". www.scotcatsonline.fr. Retrieved 2 June 2012.
- Chris Packham for The Sun Newspaper. "Beasts of Britain". www.thesun.co.uk. Retrieved 2 June 2012.
- Chris Smith. "Second Scottish Puma". www.scotcatsonline.fr. Retrieved 2 June 2012.
- O'Neill, Sean (2001-05-09). "The Beast of Cricklewood is caged". London: The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 2010-09-01.
- "The Beast of Funen". Skepticreport.com. Retrieved 2009-12-20.
- (Dutch) Massale belangstelling voor poemajacht ("Massive interest in cougar hunting")[dead link]
- (Dutch) 'Poema' Winnie ontmaskerd ("'Puma' Winnie unmasked")
- Thursday Oct 09, 2003 (2003-10-09). "MAF staff, wildlife experts hunt big black cat in vain". NZ Herald. Retrieved 2009-07-28.
- "List of sightings in New Zealand". Mysteriousnewzealand.co.nz. Retrieved 2009-07-28.
- "An unsolved mystery". Ashburton Guardian. Retrieved 2013-07-01.
- Fantastic Feline - Hunting the Big Black Cat, Report by Jendy Harper, Close Up at Seven, Television New Zealand, 3rd May 2005. Transcript.
- Susan Sandys. Bid to capture black panther, Ashburton Guardian, 8 December 2009. Retrieved 8 February 2010.
- Mysterious America, by Loren Coleman, Copyright 2001, 2007, published by Pocket Books (a division of Simon & Schuster), Paraview Pocket Books trade paperback edition April 2007, Chapter Three, page 25.
- Status Report on the Olinda, Maui Mystery Cat, Division of Forestry and Wildlife, Hawaii, 2003.
- Expert thinks big cat is dangerous, Honolulu Star-Bulletin, October 25, 2003. Retrieved December 10, 2008.
- State suspends hunt for Maui cat, Honolulu Advertiser, November 22, 2003. Retrieved December 10, 2008.
- For Maui, it was year of the cat, Honolulu Advertiser, November 30, 2003. Retrieved December 10, 2008.
- [dead link]
- Aydelette, Jeff (17 November 2011). "Most say panthers exist". The County Compass (Bayboro, North Carolina). Retrieved 6 January 2015.
- Schwarzer Panther auf Bommelscheuer
- "Viel Tamtam um eine schwarze Katze". Wort.lu. Retrieved 2013-07-01.