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The Eerie Side of the ABCs

Well, it seems that my recent article here at Mysterious Universe, on the subject of Britain’s Alien Big Cats (or ABCs, as they are also known), got more than a few people in a state of rage. Not because I suggested that the phenomenon was likely a very old one, rather than a relatively recent one. Nope: the reason was because I gave space to the theory that the ABC issue in the UK might have paranormal origins – regardless of what the paranormal might actually be.

Well, yes I did make a reference to the paranormal/ABC angle. What I said was (and I quote): “Then there is the theory that the mysterious beasts have paranormal origins.” And that’s it: twelve words! Clearly, for some people, however, even just those twelve words were twelve words too many!

I had no less than seven messages sent to me (four via Facebook and three via my email account) from people  all essentially demanding to know why I was giving space to the claims that the ABC phenomenon is not one of normal, flesh and blood proportions.

First and foremost, anyone who allows their blood to boil and their blood-pressure to soar, all because of a brief, one-sentence reference to what is undeniably the most controversial aspect of the entire ABC phenomenon, really needs to significantly chill out and take a deep breath or several.

Consider the following: regardless of what this ABC researcher concludes or that ABC researcher believes, the fact is that there are more than a few cases on record that – at the very least – give rise to the theory that some ABCs are not flesh and blood animals – as we understand the term.


Does that mean the entire issue can be relegated to the world of the supernatural? No, of course it doesn’t! There are numerous, high-quality and very credible reports that strongly indicate large cats are indeed roaming the UK – even though they shouldn’t be. But that does not take away the fact that there is a body of data suggesting a number of reports involve creatures of not just a weird kind, but of a very weird kind.

Now, it may well be that I tend to be on the receiving end of such “rogue” reports because I have written on this topic in the past (such as in the pages of my Monster Diary book). In other words, witnesses to the supernatural side of the ABC phenomenon may well gravitate towards someone who they feel is open to listening to a particularly controversial account.

I won’t bombard you with each and every case I have on file, but I will share three classic examples – all of which originate in the UK, and all of which demonstrate why we should remain open-minded on the nature of certain aspects of the ABC controversy.

The first comes from a woman named Mandy Cockayne, who had an encounter with a significantly-sized ABC in 1989. The location was near the town of Chudleigh, Devon, England. At the time, Mandy and her husband (who were married just a few months earlier) were visiting old school-friends in the area and took a trip to the nearby Castle Dyke Iron Age Fort – which is located between Chudleigh and Dawlish.

It was while strolling around the ancient site that Mandy and her husband caught sight of what Mandy described as a “black panther.” Such terminology is actually incorrect, but frequently used, even by the UK media. A more correct description would be that of a melanistic leopard or jaguar. There was no doubt in Mandy’s mind that what she and her husband saw 100 percent fitted the bill of what passes for an ABC in the UK.

The animal was large, muscular, completely black, had a shiny coat, and – somewhat ominously – had clearly seen the pair, since it was staring intently at them from a distance of barely seventy feet, or thereabouts. After a few tense seconds, however, the ABC did something very unusual: it vanished. And, by that, I mean literally vanished.


I asked Mandy if it was possible that the mysterious creature had simply raced out of view. She was absolutely adamant that was not what occurred. She insisted it was there one second and then…it wasn’t there. It had, essentially, dematerialized. And, there is the fact that the ABC turned up at a place of archaeological and historical significance: an Iron Age hill-fort. Ancient sites and paranormal phenomena, as many students of the unknown will be aware, practically go together hand-in-glove.

Moving on, there is the case of Barry Llewellyn, which occurred in mid-1993. The location is as controversial as the event itself. By that, I mean it was hardly where you would expect to see an ABC: a busy stretch of road right in the heart of the city of Lichfield. According to Barry, it was around lunchtime and he was driving towards the city’s railways station when he had what he described as “a funny turn.” Fortunately, it occurred while Barry was stationary in a long line of midday traffic.

For a minute or so Barry felt disoriented, dizzy and overcome by a feeling of falling. As the “funny turn” hit him, Barry was amazed to see a huge black cat make its way across the road, from right to left…only to fade away into nothingness. As was the case with Mandy Cockayne, the ABC briefly stared eerily at Barry, who told me that “…it was looking at me like it had a purpose.” What that “purpose” might have been is anyone’s guess.

Needless to say, those of a skeptical mindset might say that the encounter was purely an internal one, born out of that “funny turn” (of a type which, I should stress, Barry had never previously experienced – or since, too). And even if the event was wholly internal to Barry, why should it have specifically involved a large cat that he, too, described as a “black panther”?


Finally, there is the story of Dave Barnaby. In the mid-1970s, Dave – a big fan of stock-car racing – regularly hung out at what is called the Hednesford Hills Raceway (situated on the fringes of the paranormally-saturated Cannock Chase). It’s a place I know very well, as it’s located just about a fifteen-minute drive from where I grew up as a kid.

As Dave recalled, on one particular Sunday morning he was driving to Hednesford from the nearby town of Rugeley. All was normal: it was a bright, sunny day and the perfect time to hang out with his friends and pass a few hours watching the stock-car racing. As he closed in on the town, Dave slowed down his Ford Cortina car and was shell-shocked to see a huge cat (no prizes for guessing the color…) charge across the road at what Dave said was a near-impossible speed.

On reaching the edge of the road, however, it simply winked out of existence. It was there one moment and gone the next. Not surprisingly, it was an encounter that remains fresh in Dave’s mind today, almost forty years later. I asked Dave if the cat might have simply leapt into the surrounding bushes. His reply: “No, there’s no way, mate. It was like someone turned off a light.”

And there we have it: three out of at least twenty such reports I have on file. Do I think that the paranormal aspect of the ABC phenomenon can explain every facet of the mystery? No, I don’t. At all. There are, for example, a number of verifiable cases where large cats have been captured or killed in the UK (here’s one famous and very controversial example and here’s another).

But, to deny these rogue events is to deny a not insignificant part of the mystery, one which deserves as much attention as the flesh and blood angle currently receives. If the ABC research community chooses to react in hostile, negative or “I don’t want to know” fashion to such admittedly controversial accounts, that says far more about the researchers than it does about the puzzle itself.

In the same way that UFOs, ghostly phenomena, and paranormal activity may have multiple points of origin, much the same might be said about the Alien Big Cats. Providing you’re not closed-minded to such a possibility, of course. If, however, you are of the “head in the sand”-type, feel free to send me an email or Facebook message and rant to your heart’s content and your blood-pressure’s consternation…

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  • jake

    NIck, I have to say I love mysterious universe, but you have become by far and away my favorite author here. I don’t want to try to put words in your mouth, for lack of a better way of putting it, but I feel like you’re holding back on some more extreme paranormal theories to appease the audience members who are more skeptical of this track. will you ever drop the bomb and go after some really off the charts stuff? maybe you have in some of your books i am need of reading… but i feel like you’re line of thought is capable of taking another step and i’m hoping that you take it.

  • NickRedfern

    Hey Jake, Many thanks for the word and comments. No, I’m not holding anything back at all. In fact, I can’t think of anything much worse than appeasing an audience, as that would sound like a weakness on my part to do that. I always tell it as I see it. The only things I don’t publish are reports where the witness prefers not to have their account published. I respect people’s privacy, so if they ask me not to publish it, I never will. But, as for me, nope. Anything and everything I conceivably can publish, I do. So, there’s no “extreme paranormal theories” I’m holding back on. In fact, I have published some very extreme theories over the years, such as the “demonic UFO” theory, or the idea that Bigfoot is inter-dimensional or a Tulpa etc – all of which are pretty extreme to a lot of people!

  • White Falcon

    I agree Jake. Nick is a pioneer in the field of the Mysterious Unknown purely because he is willing to consider all the stranger aspects that don’t fit neatly into prepackaged “Paranormal” boxes, or nuts n’ bolts “UFO boxes”.
    The supernatural (or whatever you want to call it) CANNOT and WILL NOT be categorized. It is beyond neat, tidy, logical thought processes, and it is far, far beyond the mechanized logic of science.
    Likewise, the wild superstition of our dark illiterate past is a lazy comfort which we cling to almost like a safety blanket. I say it’s time to burn the blanket, stop crawling around in the dark, and start looking this wonderful beast straight in the eye. Because that’s what it wants. It wants us to grow up and solve the mysteries it has endlessly woven for us for thousands of years.

    What we need are more people like Nick who aren’t afraid to probe the depths of the Ultra-strange and to have the guts to put forward unconventional theories. This is the only way the threads of this bizarre conundrum can be unraveled.

  • celsiusrising

    I have a fairly strong hunch that man’s forays and depradations into the fields of electromagnetic counter-rotating fields and God knows what else via CERN, etc. may well be causing these potential dimensional slips, (for lack of a better word) resulting in all the weird things that have been reported more and more frequently over the last decade. These are strange & dangerous times we are living in, these days. Any one uttering the words, “I’m bored” these days, is also simultaneously announcing their ignorance..

  • jake

    thanks, Nick!

  • jake

    white falcon, couldn’t have said it better myself. once we do this, if we really go after it head on, what is the next step? do we engage it, or heed john keel and proceed with utmost caution? what can be gained by interacting with the paranormal on a higher level?

  • White Falcon

    Hi Jake. I feel that all of these anomalies that don’t fit into our consensus reality, the stuff we choose to label as ‘supernatural’ or ‘paranormal’ – from UFOs to ghosts, from out of body experiences to near death experiences, from deja vu to psychic phenomena – they are all, for want of a less dramatic phrase – “Glitches in the Matrix”. They are all saying “Look at me!” “Notice me!”. Almost like there is a carefully crafted design behind all of it. A design that at it’s very core is saying “There’s something more to your reality. There’s something that all of you are choosing to ignore. Wake up and see the bigger picture!”.

    Some argue that all these seemingly bizarre anomalies are an outpouring of the subconscious human mind. Although I don’t think this comes close to explaining it in totality, there may be an element of truth. I think it’s not the phenomenon in all its various guises that’s important – it’s us. The common denominator in all of this is US. The phenomenon is not separate from the human race, it’s totally dependent on the human race, in as much as it demands to be noticed by us. The phenomenon exists alongside us in a symbiotic relationship of sorts.

    So the question is – Is this intelligence trying to wake us up to IT, or to OURSELVES? I’m inclined to believe the latter. Whitley Strieber said something like “the UFO phenomenon could be what conscious evolution looks like.” Maybe he’s right. Perhaps the phenomenon is asking us to evolve.

    Over the years I have enjoyed listening to people like Nick Redfern, Mac Tonnies, Whitley Strieber, John Keel, Jacques Vallee and Mike Clelland, purely because they are not afraid to theorize and propose new ideas to decode this mystery which has intertwined itself with humanity. These researchers are the much needed antidote to the boys from MUFON with their tidy little clipboards and their ball point pens, desperate to take measurements of the flying saucers in the night skies.

    I said we need to “start looking this wonderful beast straight in the eye” and I think, if truth be told, I’m talking not of the ‘supernatural’, but of ourselves. We need to ignore the ridicule of the mainstream media and the pompous academics and scientists. We need to look ourselves in the eye and have the courage to shout out new philosophies. Only then can we come anywhere close to understanding what all of this strangeness can really mean.

    Call it a renaissance. From here on in, only human imagination has the power to decode the mysteries of this planet. Waiting for Science will be wasted time.

  • Paul Anthony Paterson

    For a good explanation of the “Fen Tiger” and other alleged sightings have a read at Linton Zoo’s page:

    “In 1976 the Dangerous Wild Animals Act (official website) was introduced in the United Kingdom, back then it was highly fashionable to keep exotic pets often the more dangerous species. The frequency of which was seen as a risk to the public and questions were being raised about the welfare of the animals, as well as hybrids becoming more frequent between wild and domestic species such as Bengals and Ocicats.

    The purpose of the Act was to ensure that when private individuals keep dangerous wild animals they do so in circumstances which do not create risk to the public and safeguard the welfare of the animals. Keeping such animals without a licence became unlawful and the strict guidelines were set as to where and how the animal is to be kept. The law also requires keepers to have their animals covered by a satisfactory liability insurance policy. Many species are covered in the act including many primates, large or venomous reptiles, dangerous spiders and scorpions and of course big cats and other carnivores.

    The introduction of this act meant that many people who had animals included in the Dangerous Wild Animals Act were unable to keep their animals so had to seek new homes for them or face serious charges. This led to many animals being donated to zoos, moved out of the country, killed or in some cases just released into the wild – which of course is where we get some of the argument about big cats in the wild.

    It is quite possible that some big cats were allowed to roam free in the countryside, however, this was 34 years ago. No cat however big or well looked after lives more than around 20 years, in the wild you’d expect somewhere around 12 to 14 years old.

    Which leads many people onto the argument that the newly wild animals could have met others that were released, mated and have since started several generations of big cats. Anyone who has any experience of working with animals, especially big cats can tell you that there is much more to it than putting a male and a female together and bingo you get babies. Even within international breeding programmes where only small populations of animals are available for breeding and these programmes are run by extremely experienced and knowledgeable people there is potential for problems to occur. Inbreeding from small populations of some cat species can lead to gross deformities and infertility. The sheer number of animals that you would need in the wild to be able to viably keep a health population going, means that we probably should be seeing these animals or at least regular signs of them all over the place by now. One thing to consider is why the hunts and shoot beaters have not flushed out cubs (which are not streetwise) or adults from the safety of their cover.” (Linton Zoo)

    “A spokeswoman said: “None of the sightings of big cats have ever been confirmed and the evidence of all the sightings we have been asked to look at has either been unsubstantiated or has been attributed to other causes. From time to time big cats do escape from zoos or other collections and are usually recaptured very quickly. We are confident that there is no breeding population of big cats in this country.” (Natural England)

    The idea of leopards still living in Europe is very powerful. Every year a new and ferocious creature turns up in England, one that exists only in newspaper columns, vividly imprecise eyewitness reports blurry photographs of black puddyy cats and our eternal appetite for monsters: the Beast of Bodmin, the Surrey Puma, the Fen Tiger” Simon Barnes of the Times No “big cats” in the wilds and breeding in the UK And No there is no evidence to show that the UK has big cats.

    But there’s the key word – imaginary. Is this big cat real or is it an illusion? The blurred photograph (why so shaky, was it fear or fake fear?) reveals what genre this picture belongs to. It’s summer and the monster animal snaps are here. Remarkably, the warm summer has not yet produced any sightings of great white sharks off Cornwall or kraken near Anglesey, but here’s an animal mystery to spice up those country walks. Beware the possible puma!

    Zooform , no such word…Cryptozoology concerns itself with unknown species for which there are “myths” and with supposedly-extinct species. Strictly-speaking, a species that is simply unknown is not cryptozoological. Cryptozoology” is that it is not a legitimate field of science. Any idiot can call himself a cryptozoologist as if it means something important and it does not. A zoologist is a legitimate title, as is geologist, biologist, etc. Cryptozoologist means nothing.

  • Lastsister

    I agree with you celsiusrising. Man is messing around too much with nature and pushing the envelope.

  • southpaw
    A lot of ABC sightings are from a specified species of alien which is made up of sub-atomic particles, They are able to teleport- shapeshift and other various degrees of abilities. They are unkillable- they cannot be shot because the energy they are made of are particles lacking in electrons and protons. It is the product of comining atoms together where the combined atoms become a single sub-atomic particle. They can dematerialize, move at incredible speeds and are overall Immortal. Their crafts and technology can do small leap jumps for instant teleportation, this can be activated several times within a window of a few seconds from each other. Anyways, They are an inter-galatic species. They came from another galaxy, it is the particles that make up their being that allow them the travel through deep space.

    They are not limited to just the Panther form, the other prefered form is a large black wolf or canine.
    These are the same beings that have been labeled skinwalkers.
    All of these things have connections because they are all directed towards the same beings with the same abilities. Only many people just cannot cope with the fact that these beings DO have saucers, and are very much inhabitating other worlds… not other dimensions.

    They don’t just come from some random realm of darkness, that is silly.
    Nore are they spirits from a realm where other spirits linger with spirit communities and spirit cities and spirit ufos that travel from the spirit realm to the living realm is totally false and pushing it way to far from the true possiblities.

    So there you have it, I guess people are just terrorfied of the idea of these beings being superiorly advanced to anything else we have encountered. Greys/pleiadians/elves w.e you wanna believe in as far as species go. They got nothing on these guys…. period.