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Tuesday, May 28, 2024

Is this Victoria’s mythical black panther

A carpenter’s photo of a big cat has sparked debate over whether it proves black panthers really do roam Victoria’s Mornington Peninsula. 

Michael Corr, 36, was walking through the Tootgarook wetlands, south-east of Melbourne, last Thursday, with his 11-year-old son when he spotted the feline.

He managed to pull out his phone just in time to take a photo before the animal wandered into the snake infested reeds.

Speaking to Daily Mail Australia, the father-of-two said the animal looked like it was on its way to find a meal.Michael Corr captured what he believes is a large cat similar to the elusive black panther in the Tootgarook wetlands, south-east of Melbourne last Thursday+2

“I just thought that’s the biggest cat I’ve ever seen and it was just crossing the tracks as if it was stalking something,” he said.

“My son ran in the other direction. We’ve been down there before and heard things rustling in the reeds but had never seen something like this.”

Mr Corr said that the animal definitely had the head of a cat and moved like a feline – adding there was no way he had mistaken it for a dog.

“I know feral cats get big but it possibly could of been something else as there are stories that go way back about panthers in the wild in Australia left from the travelling circus and also from World War Two,” he said.

The father said that after sharing the photo to a few community Facebook pages he was flooded with messages from other locals saying they had seen it too around the peninsula.

“My son is spinning out! He’s doing research about (panthers), he’s fascinated and a bit scared too,” Mr Corr said. 

Finally a decent photo of the elusive panther!” one Facebook user replied, but others said it was simply a domestic cat roaming the swamp.

Panther sightings on the Mornington Peninsula go back 35 years, with a 2018 photo the most recent to be debunked, and they are common across Australia.  

In March last year, Sean Miljoen said he saw a bobcat near a road in the Yarra Ranges.

In August, a Queensland woman claimed a big cat attacked her dog for the second time near her home in Jensen, 20 minutes west of Townsville.

The North Queenslander said it was the third time she had seen a black panther, the first being ten years ago when she claimed to see one carrying a baby panther in its mouth.

There have long been rumours of black panthers, an animal group that includes leopards and jaguars, roaming around Australia, but none have been caught.

Believers say the big cats escaped zoos in the 1800s or were brought to Australia by World War II American soldiers in the 1940s as mascots

There have long been rumours of black panthers, an animal group that includes leopards and jaguars, roaming around Australia, but none have been caught.

A large black cat photographed in rural Queensland by a backpacker in 2014.

This article first appeared in Daily Mail.

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