Huge 5ft black panther spotted prowling fields near Doncaster's Keepmoat Stadium
A huge 5ft black panther has been spotted prowling countryside near to Doncaster’s Keepmoat Stadium.
The big cat was spotted by mum Jessica Clark at the weekend – and is the latest in a series of ‘panther’ sightings in and around Doncaster.
She said: “When we got close to it, I realised exactly what it was and it was terrifying.
“When I realised what I’d seen, I just started panicking. It was massive and very muscular and definitely a big cat. It was quite frightening to see something like that up close.
Mrs Clark was travelling along White Rose Way towards Doncaster from the M18 at around 4.30pm on Sunday when she spotted the beast within the Potteric Carr Nature Reserve, just a short distance from Doncaster Rovers’ Keepmoat Stadium.
The Warmsworth mum of two said: “I first saw it as we approached in the car.
“As we got closer, I thought it was a dog or something. But when we were right at the side of it, I could clearly tell it was a big cat.
“It looked about 5ft tall and I could see it over the grass. You could see its tail, its face, its muscular legs, everything.
“It was moving slowly, like it was stalking a rabbit or something like that.”
“My husband told me not to be silly and that I couldn’t have seen it but I know what it was that I saw.”
It is not the first time there have been panther sightings in and around Doncaster.
In January 2017, Alan Tomlinson said he had seen a ‘panther’ near to junction one of the M180, close to Doncaster services.
He said: “I’ve been doing this job for eight years, and have been driving since 1982 and I’ve seen foxes and things like that but I've never seen anything like that before. It was much, much bigger than any animal I've ever driven past.
“I only saw the back of it,but I knew it was a puma or a panther when I saw the size of its tale which was curled right round. That's how I knew it was a panther.
Meanwhile, later the same year, trucker Graham Byram said he saw a trio of highways workers struggling to lift a huge dead animal into the back of a truck on the A1 near Harworth.
There have also been big cat sightings in the Armthorpe and Askern areas in recent years, as well as other parts of South Yorkshire.
Stories of big cats go back to the 1960s and 70s when it was legal and fashionable to keep exotic animals as pets.
The wealthy could take their lion, tiger or cheetah for a walk around the park without needing a licence.
But in 1976 the government introduced the Dangerous Wild Animals Act to protect the public and animals.
While many owners gave their pets to zoos or put them down rumours started that some people released their animals into the wild where their offspring still roam to this day.
She said the beast was about 20 metres away from the edge of the road and was moving slowly.
She has reported the sighting to South Yorkshire Police and also The British Big Cat Sanctuary.
“I am quite interested in this kind of thing,” she said, “so I would be interested if there have been any other sightings.
“The police told me there have been quite a few in this area over the last few years.”