‘Cuddly toy’ sparks Peterborough panther speculation

The photograph of a 'mysterious' black cat taken by Marc Peacock-Smith ' believed to be a life-size toy.
The photograph of a 'mysterious' black cat taken by Marc Peacock-Smith ' believed to be a life-size toy.
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A large cuddly toy left on a grass bank triggered concerns that a black cat might have been on the loose in Peterborough.

Eagle-eyed reader Marc Peacock-Smith contacted the PT after spotting what looked like the outline of a black panther-like creatrure lying on a grass verge outside Thorpe Wood police station in Longthorpe.

Mr Peacock-Smith, who had been on his way to work at the time stopped to take a picture of the figure, which he then sent to the PT for further inspection.

He said: “I was driving along to drop my son off at nursery when I saw what looked like the biggest black cat or panther sat on a verge right outside the police station.

“I stopped my car for a few seconds so I could take a picture on my mobile phone, I didn’t get out of my car and I must have been about 10 metres or so away from it. It just sat there. I’m sure other people saw it too.

“My reaction was intrigue more than anything, I just thought it was really odd.”

However, it looks likely that object may have been a ‘life-size’ child’s cuddly toy.

A spokesman for Cambridgeshire Police said officers had received a call on Monday afternoon from someone reporting a Puma walking along a grass verge in Thorpe Road, Longthorpe.

However, the spokesman added that a very large stuffed toy cat had been seen in the same area earlier the same day.

Daniel Bamping, founder of the British Big Cats Society, viewed the picture for the PT, and said: “This looks to me like a large cuddly toy.”

The sighting rekindled speculation about the mythical ‘Beast of Bretton’ a large black cat reputedly sighted in the city environs - most recently spotted on a footpath in Mallard Road, Bretton, by Royal Mail worker Clive Williams in August 2011.

Mr Bamping added: “There are hundreds, if not thousands of big cat sightings reported in Britain every year – some people are mistaken. Some are clearly not big cats but a large majority either are or go unexplained.”

He said sightings are widespread and occur in every county, fuelled partly by the fact such “big cats” are able to cover 25km to 35km in one night in search of shelter, food or a mate.