The Times and other news media outlets, today, August 16, 2023, report on the discovery of a photograph of what to me is clearly a melanistic leopard (black panther) in long grass which carried an inscription saying that it was taken in Smallthorne, Staffordshire, UK. The person who wrote the inscription did not provide their full name nor their address and it is undated. It was apparently sent to the Centre for Fortean Zoology.
The photograph news media which the expert state prove conclusively that there is a black panther in the British countryside, is a fake because you can see a genuine photograph of a black panther on the Pinterest website. I reproduced it below. This photograph has been knitted into the sensationalised story circulating many news media outlets.
Below are the photographs supporting the theory that there is a genuine big cat running around the British countryside. This is been debunked by this article and my thanks to the person who commented for picking out the above photograph from Pinterest which tells us unequivocally that this image was photoshopped i.e. photo edited.
The photograph is part of a documentary film to be aired later this year in the UK on Amazon Prime Video called Panthera Britannia Declassified.
The filmmakers are ecstatic about the finding but I’m going to debunk it. I’m going to prove that this is not evidence that there are big cats roaming the British countryside. And let’s be sure, this is the clearest evidence yet they say.
A quick search using Google Maps tells me that Smallthorne is a very small urban district in Stoke-on-Trent, UK. It is not, positively not, the British countryside. Therefore, this picture was not taken in the British countryside.
Perhaps the person who sent it in to the archive lived in Stoke-on-Trent! But this surely undermines the veracity of this photograph as good evidence.
Here is a closeup of the location. Entirely urban. No fields!
Also, there are no contextual landmarks in the photograph to confirm that it was taken in the British countryside. On the face of it, the photograph could have been taken anywhere, in any country. It probably was taken somewhere other than the UK.
If it was taken in the UK, it might have been in a private zoo. It is legally possible to own a black panther in the UK with a licence provided you meet the requirements of that licence. Although clearly, they are rare.
SIDEBAR: In countries such as America, private zoos are common. Although the Big Cat Public Safety Act has stopped the ownership of big cats in the USA. In essence private zoos containing big cats are being phased out in the US thanks to this act which was drawn up, debated and created because of the efforts of Carole Baskin of Big Cat Rescue. That’s another story.
Definitely a black panther but I am unenthusiastic about it
Back this photograph. It is certainly a melanistic leopard but I am not as enthusiastic as Carl Marshall, the assistant director of the above-mentioned centre who told the documentary: “The photograph is unambiguous, it is clearly a large cat of the Panthera genus, and it’s so clear we can even see it whiskers. The photograph was attached to a mysterious handwritten letter, which includes a date without the year, isn’t signed with a full name and doesn’t have the sender’s address. It does state the photo was taken and if it’s genuine, there is probably the best photo of a British big cat that exists.”
I fully disagree for the reasons stated above. This is another red herring to follow all the others which are always fuzzy pictures of black domestic cats meandering through a field innocently minding their own business doing a spot of hunting while their home is a few hundred yards away on the edge of the countryside.
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