May 18, 2023 I Paul Seaburn

DNA Test Confirms Existence of a Sheep Killing Alien Big Cat in Gloucestershire

Which came first: alien big cats in Great Britain or the British Big Cats Society? It’s a trick question, since stories of alien big cats or British big cats or phantom cats in Britain date back to at least the 1700s, but actual physical evidence of them, in particular the well-known named cats like the Beast of Bodmin or the Beast of Exmoor, is virtually non-existent, while the British Big Cats Society is a real organization dedicated to finding such evidence and proving that alien big cats reported all across Britain really do exist. Their job just got easier – another organization investigating a mysterious killing of a sheep found clumps of hair caught in a barbed wire fence and a DNA test found it to be a 99.9% match to the leopard species Panthera Pardus and could be definitive proof of a black panther living in Gloucestershire.

Is there just one ...  or more?

“People in Gloucestershire and Britain have described what appear to be black leopards for decades. So, a leopard DNA result from a black hair sample is unsurprising.”

If it is “unsurprising,” why is documentary filmmaker Matthew Everett from Dragonfly Films so excited about the DNA confirmation of a black cat killing a sheep owned by a Gloucestershire farmer? It could be because he’s pitching a new documentary, “Panthera Britannia Declassified,” to follow up on the studio’s previous alien big cat film, “Panthera Britannia.” According to Discover Wildlife, Everett was familiar with this farmer and the area – in 2017, the farmer found a lamb killed by a mysterious predator. Everett heard about the killing and received permission from the farmer to take swabs of the wounds for analysis. A study by Warwick University found nothing. The jawbone of the sheep had tooth marks on it, so it was sent to the Royal Agricultural University in Cirencester, which confirmed that they were potentially made by the molar and pre-molar of a big cat. That wasn’t enough evidence for proof, but there were enough sightings in subsequent years to convince locals they had their own big cat.

Stories of British big cats go back to at least the 1700s. Writer William Cobbett reported in the 1760s that he saw a cat "as big as a middle-sized Spaniel dog" around the ruins of Waverley Abbey in Surrey, and later saw a big cat in New Brunswick he believed was a North American lynx (Felis lynx canadensis). This could have been a pet or an escaped zoo animal, as a Canadian lynx was shot in Devon in 1903 that showed signs of having escaped from captivity. A puma captured in Inverness-shire, Scotland, in 1980 was suspected to have been an abandoned pet. Many other reports of alien big cats have been recorded across Britain, but scratches, photos and descriptions have not been enough to prove their existence.

As certain areas began to have consistent reports of a big cat, the creatures picked up names related to their locale – the Beast of Bevendean in Sussex, the Shooters Hill "cheetah" was reported in 1963 in that part of London, the Beast of Exmoor was reported from Devon and Somerset in the 1970s, and the Sheppey Panther on the island of Sheppey in Kent. As more were reported, the national media picked up on the stories and the Beast of Bodmin became famous starting in 1992, followed by the Galloway Puma and the Beast of Dartmoor in the Haldon Forest. With that many alleged sightings, organizations such as the British Big Cat Society were formed to track them and hone in on definitive proof that the country has least a few and is possibly overrun by big cats of various origins, many suspected of being descendants of the named beasts. As the numbers increased, documentarians arrived to bring the tales of Britain’s phantom cats to the world.

“It was a large lamb this time, at least 35 or 40 kilos.”

Matthew Everett may have forgotten about that farmer with the dead sheep in Gloucestershire, but the farmer didn’t forget him. When a mysteriously murdered lamb turned up in 2022, he called Everett and convinced the filmmaker to return for a look. Everett was intrigued by what he saw.

“There were what looked like two canine puncture marks on the skin. At the time we thought well it could just be dog worrying, we weren’t really sure. There was wool sprawled across the ground, as though some sort of struggle had taken place. We checked the perimeter for access points, and there wasn’t any. But there was a wall that was very high where something could have jumped down quite easily.”

After inspecting the carcass, Everett and his investigative team searched the premises, hoping to find tracks or some other form of evidence identifying the killer. They fould it by the wall.

“And that’s when we saw the wool and hair on the barbed wire fence.”

The hairs were collected and sent to a lab (which wishes to remain unnamed) where a Mitochondrial DNA analysis was performed. This DNA, which is found only on the female side of a species, was found to be a 99.9% match to the leopard Panthera Pardus. They also captured video footage of a large black animal roaming near the farm where the hair was found, so this would most likely be a black panther. Everett was thrilled and told Discover Wildlife he will feature the farm and its big cats in the new documentary, “Panthera Britannia Declassified,” along with other claims of big cat sightings across the country. None are expected to match the DNA evidence proving the existence of this ‘beast’ of Gloucestershire.

The proof is in the DNA.

“It's taken five years for the production team to find such evidence and film its journey from collection to analysis. There is a great deal of ‘secondary evidence’ for these cats, such as consistent witness reports, but hard evidence like DNA is hard to get, so the contribution from this documentary is very helpful.”

Is this “hard” DNA evidence the proof needed to push the phantom cats and alien big cats of Britain from myths and legends to real and deadly? It may be the proverbial straw that broke the myth and could open the floodgates to more serious investigations as the Big Cats in Britain (another big cat organizatio9n) reports hundreds of sightings annually from Devons to Scotland to Wales to Sussex to Somerset and beyond.

And now to Gloucestershire.

Paul Seaburn

Paul Seaburn is the editor at Mysterious Universe and its most prolific writer. He’s written for TV shows such as "The Tonight Show", "Politically Incorrect" and an award-winning children’s program. He's been published in “The New York Times" and "Huffington Post” and has co-authored numerous collections of trivia, puzzles and humor. His “What in the World!” podcast is a fun look at the latest weird and paranormal news, strange sports stories and odd trivia. Paul likes to add a bit of humor to each MU post he crafts. After all, the mysterious doesn't always have to be serious.

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