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Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Off-Duty Policeman Captures Big Cat on Video

Helensburgh ABC, 2009
Helensburgh ABC, 2009
An off-duty Ministry of Defense (MoD) policeman was helping a friend in his garden when he spotted what he thought was a very large Labrador.  Being a police dog handler by trade, he quickly dismissed the Labrador theory, as the large, black animal moved like a cat.  Intrigued, PC Chris Swallow grabbed his video camera and captured just over one minute of footage, as well as a single still image, which appears to show an extremely large cat nosing around the train tracks in Helensburgh, Argyll (outside of Glasgow, Scotland).

PC Swallow told reporters he had heard reports of big cats roaming the countryside but never believed them -- until now. "We were stunned. It was remarkable," he told reporters. The sighting occurred on June 30th, 2009.

Looking back at the video I don't think there's any doubt that it's a big cat. - PC Chris Swallow [Source: BBC]
Big Cats have been reported throughout the United Kingdom for decades now.  In fact, a Big Cat has been reported in the very area in which PC Swallow took the video.  First sighted in 2004, the "Coulport Cat" is said to roam the area around Loch Long.  The Coulport Cat is said to be tan, but a black Big Cat has also been spotted close-by, leading many to theorize there is a panther on the loose.

The theory is not at all far-fetched; Big Cats are almost always black, and the general consensus amongst cryptozoologists is that these Big Cats are actually panthers.  According to the Big Cats of Britain group, there is at least one sighting of a Big Cat in the British Isles every day, almost invariably black.  They are thought maybe to have escaped from a private zoo or collection, but the number and frequency of the reports throughout the years suggest a family of pumas or panthers at-large.

The Beast of Exmoor is probably the most famous Big Cat in Britain.  First reported in the 1970s, The Beast of Exmoor became world news when a picture of the creature was taken in 1983.  Interestingly, The Beast of Exmoor was also said to be either black or tan, with a handful of reports indicating two Big Cats -- one of each color.  Panthers can be either black or tawny, and the term "Panther" is sometimes used to describe many large cats, which further clouds the issue.

While the Big Cats of the UK are by far the most popular, Big Cats have been spotted all over the world in areas and climates in which experts refuse to believe they could survive.  Most recently, there have been reports of two lions in the American state of Georgia.

Britain's Big Cats are sometimes termed "ABC," or Alien Big Cats.  While the term is tongue-in-cheek, large cats were once thought to be alien to the UK.

© C Harris Lynn, 2009

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