There are wild cats in Britain, most notably the Scottish wildcat, which is classified as endangered. However, they are small and hard to distinguish from domestic cats. But big cats have been spotted in the UK for decades, sometimes seen as cougars or lynx. In fact, there have been 155 big cat sightings reported to authorities in the past three years alone!
Where might these cats have come from? One theory suggests they were released by their owners in the months leading up to the 1976 Dangerous Wild Animals Act. Exotic animals had been sold in Harrods; cheetahs could occasionally be seen being walked in Hyde Park. Given the choice of acquiring a costly licence or relinquishing their pets to animal sanctuaries, at least some owners chose a third option: sending cats out into the wild. In 2000, Leslie Maiden, a lion tamer known as One-Eyed Nick, told the Birmingham Post he’d released a panther and a puma in Derbyshire some 25 years before. “At first I was a bit worried about how they would get on,” he said. “But I went up to the moors a few weeks later and saw bones of sheep and pheasants, so I think they adapted pretty well.”
That was forty years ago, so the theory requires that these freed big cats managed to not only survive unseen, but also find mates of their own species and reproduce undetected for generations. There are other theories that hold almost as much water. Read about the continuing big cat sightings in Britain at the Guardian. -via Boing Boing
(Image credit: Midnightblueowl)