Police who spent yesterday scouring fields near the B730 in Ayrshire for a mystery “large black cat” have ruled out an earlier theory that the beast is a black panther.
The original alert made newspaper headlines across Britain, and the subsequent downgrading of the animal from big cat predator to (possibly) domestic cat has been vigorously lampooned in press and social media.
Police consulted an expert on big cats, who after studying pictures of the animal reckoned it was unlikely to be a panther - black or otherwise.
However it’s been stressed that police cannot yet confirm what type of animal is involved - although some form of cat seems likely.
If the cat were a mongrel cross with a Highland wild cat - although unlikely in Ayrshire - it could be significantly larger than a normal domestic cat.
Enquiries are still ongoing to establish more information, and members of the public are still asked to take care and not approach it if seen.
The term Panther covers a variety of sub-species, including leopards and jaguars, but “black Panther” normally refers to the animal found in south-west Asia.
Big cat sightings are nothing new in Scotland, with numerous reports of large black cats dating back to at least the 70’s, often in areas such as rural East Renfrewshire.
Theories that a rare colony of wild beasts may be furtively roaming the landscape - perhaps derived from an animal escaped from captivity - have never been disproved.
Anyone with information should contact Police via 101 quoting incident number 0780 of Friday, October 19.