Large cat mistakenly thought to be black panther triggers police search in Scotland

After initial alarm that had a police helicopter deployed for the search, it turned out that the supposed panther could have been a large domestic cat. PHOTO: ST FILE

A large black cat mistakenly thought to be a black panther triggered a police search and a public warning in Scotland last Friday (Oct 19).

The initial alarm over the supposed panther sighting even resulted in a police helicopter deployed for the search.

In a Facebook post last Friday morning, the Ayrshire Police Division had urged residents in Drongan and Coalhall to be vigilant, after a sighting of what was believed to be a black panther in the fields between the two villages.

"Officers are currently working to locate the animal, which may be injured," the police added then.

A Police Scotland spokesman told British newspaper The Independent that the first reported sighting of the big cat was at 9.15am local time last Friday, and that a helicopter was deployed to search for it.

But in a Facebook post about five hours later, the Ayrshire Police Division said it had liaised with a big cat expert, who did not believe the animal was a black panther. The police division added that the expert could not confirm what type of animal it was.

Reports later said that the panther could have simply been a harmless feline.

An official from the Scottish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals told British public broadcaster BBC: "After reviewing the images, we believe (the animal) is a large domestic cat."

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