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    Big cat could be a hybrid beast, expert claims

    NewsUK Cat NewsWednesday 18 April 2012
    UK cats & kittens

    Footage of a beast seen roaming the fields of Winchcombe could be a hybrid species of giant cat.

    Big cat tracker Frank Tunbridge went to see for himself what was prowling through land around Mount View Drive in Winchcombe.

    And residents Keith Baker and Carrie Short showed him footage they had captured of the big black animal near to their home.

    They believed they had seen something that could be a panther or black leopard with Mr Baker claiming he has seen the animal at least 10 times.

    Mr Baker said: "It is a panther, there are no two ways about it, it is far too big to be a normal cat. I have seen it walking around the first hedge near our street."

    According to him, the beast even snarled at him when he got within yards of it.

    Mr Tunbridge said the features of the animal roaming around Mount View Drive are not consistent with the classic big cat.

    "It is not a puma or a panther or any other big cat species," he added. "It does not have the right shape at all, but it looks very much like a domestic cat until you see it near a Labrador.

    "It is the same size as a Labrador, which are quite big dogs. It is not an ordinary cat."

    Mr Tunbridge believes what they are looking at is a hybrid species of feral cat that have apparently been spotted all over Gloucestershire.

    Rumours of big cats roaming the county have been told for years. It is believed a number of big cats were released into the wild when the dangerous wild animals act was introduced in the 1970s.

    "They are in-between a domestic cat and a big cat and they are abundant in some parts of the country," said Frank.

    "This could be why DNA comes back as being a domestic cat, because its genes are originally from normal cats.

    "It is a type of British black cat, but certainly it is huge."

    "This animal is reacting like a feral cat and is not going to hurt anyone at all.

    "It has been out there for many years, I would imagine."

    Mr Tunbridge said the abundance of development in the countryside has forced these giant felines into the open, so the number of sightings has increased.

    He has taken a sample of fur to be DNA analysed.

    Another resident who shoots rabbits on Cleeve Hill has also given Mr Tunbridge some droppings, believed to be from the huge cat, to also be studied by an expert in Dorset.

    This can be analysed for deer hair and small rabbit bones, which will indicate its diet. The results will take a few weeks to come back.

    Source: This is Gloucestershire

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