Surrey Puma

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The Surrey Puma was one or more phantom cats, supposedly black pumas, seen around south western Surrey from the 1960s onwards.

The first possible sightings were recorded in 1959, when police received a number of reports of big cats in the Farnham area, near the Surrey/Hampshire border.[1] Two further sightings were recorded in 1962 by water board personnel in Hampshire, while in the winter of 1962-3, a "cat-like beast" was seen at Bushylease Farm, near Crondall in Hampshire. When a police officer sighted the supposed Shooters Hill Cheetah in 1963, media interest turned to other big cat sightings.[2]

In August 1964, a bullock at Bushylease was found, severely lacerated. Following press coverage, numerous other reports of contact with the animal, dubbed the "Surrey Puma", came in, ranging from the fanciful to some taken seriously by the police.[3] At Godalming Police Station alone, 362 reports were received in a two-year period.[2] The station also kept a cast of a massive paw print on display, identified as that of a puma by London Zoo, although several reports noted that its size implied an extremely large specimen and that there were distinct differences between it and the prints of other pumas.[4] The investigation was not closed until the summer of 1967.[2]

In August 1966, a former police photographer took a grainy shot which he claimed showed the Surrey Puma in Worplesdon.[5] In 1968, a farmer claimed to have shot a puma, but could not provide any evidence. Sightings gradually tailed off, although paw prints found in the snow in 1970 generated a flurry of further reports.[1] In 1984, hair samples taken at Peaslake were identified as puma.[2]

In 1967 the children's novelist Monica Edwards wrote a fictionalised account of the Surrey Puma entitled The Wild One.

In 1983, an alien big cat featured in The Archers, and the Beast of Exmoor entered the news. Sightings of the Surrey Puma were again recorded,[2] and have continued to the present day.[6][7]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Metareligion: Surrey Puma
  2. ^ a b c d e "Alien Big Cats in Britain", Fortean Times, February 2003
  3. ^ Hoax! Hoax! Hoax!: The Fowey Skull - Bodmin Beast or Piltdown Puss?
  4. ^ "The Surrey puma: fact or fiction?", Illustrated London News, August 27, 1966
  5. ^ The Surrey Puma
  6. ^ Spate Of 'Surrey Puma' Sightings, icSurreyOnline, 6 May 2004
  7. ^ "Now Do You Believe There Are Big Cats Living in the Surrey Countryside?", Surrey Advertiser, 23 May 2005

Further reading[edit]