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Creatures, Myths & Legends

Woman encounters 'panther' in New Zealand

By T.K. Randall
May 4, 2019 · Comment icon 15 comments

Is there an exotic cat on the loose in New Zealand ? Image Credit: CC BY-SA 3.0 Rute Martins
Juliearna Kavanagh and her partner Warren Lewis had been driving near Ward when the incident occurred.
Kavanagh, who is from Picton, had been cruising along on the east coast of New Zealand's South Island at around 11:30pm on Friday when a large animal leapt out in front of the car.

"It was in full flight; it was big and sleek and with a cat's head and a huge tail," she said.

"We both looked at each other, thinking what the heck had just happened ? We pulled off the road, slightly hysterical and went through every animal that it could possibly be, but nothing made sense."
"It was shocking."

Sightings of large exotic cats in New Zealand date back to the early 1900s and there has been at least one report of a pregnant puma escaping from a circus in Lyttleton harbor.

As things stand however, authorities have yet to find concrete evidence of such a cat in the wild.

"It was just there, right in front of our headlights, right out of the blue," said Kavanagh. "I couldn't live with myself if I'd kept quiet and then it attacked a small child or livestock."

Source: New Zealand Herald | Comments (15)

Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #6 Posted by openozy 4 years ago
And Kiwi's.
Comment icon #7 Posted by Kismit 4 years ago
No, not many of them left and certainly not Around Nelson. Rabbit,tah, and wild boar, perhaps deer. But I suspect the rabbits would be easier game
Comment icon #8 Posted by Jon the frog 4 years ago
If it eat only rabbit and  cat it's okay 
Comment icon #9 Posted by openozy 4 years ago
I think we are going to see more exotic animals released as people become wealthier,get them, then find them too much.Even though border security is tighter than ever, $ talks.
Comment icon #10 Posted by Seti42 4 years ago
I like how the panther in the photo above looks like even he (or she) doubts the story.
Comment icon #11 Posted by Seti42 4 years ago
I'll never understand that trend. I mean, if I were a multi-millionaire I'd buy art, and/or a really cool toy car like a Lamborghini Hurrican. I'd probably do a lot of traveling too. I'd never buy an "exotic" pet. That's just about the height of animal cruelty and shortsightedness. If you love big cats, donate to or found a charity that helps preserve them and their habitats. IMO, the wealthy who purchase such creatures should be fined $1 million per animal, and those fines should be directly donated to the WWF, the Humane Society, or some similar organization.
Comment icon #12 Posted by Herr Falukorv 4 years ago
And dwarfs
Comment icon #13 Posted by Aten 4 years ago
Jeez why do we always have to jump straight to killing 'whatever it is' blah blah if it was in your neighberhood you wouldn't want it etc, how about we catch it instead and re-home it, yes I know everyone is gonna say it would'nt be possible, China says/motto 'People first' well I disagree..sigh, there is no hope for anything that is not human on this planet, let concrete over everything and be done with it.
Comment icon #14 Posted by openozy 4 years ago
I don't think compassion is a noted attribute in the mega rich.
Comment icon #15 Posted by MordorOrc 4 years ago
I've seen some fairly substantial feral cats near where I live that would definitely make people think they were panthers if they didn't know what they were looking at. Feral cats, if they're fed well, can get surprisingly large. Across the ditch, they have found feral cats as large as some dogs, which if you're not used to large cats and have no good size references, one could easily claim they saw a panther.  I do believe she saw a cat. I don't believe she saw a panther. But a feral cat the size of a spaniel wouldn't be outside of the realm of possibility.

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