Black panther mystery in Provence

A mysterious black cat has been spotted in Provence, south of France, with witnesses claiming it drank from their pool and ran by their legs while jogging.

Black panther mystery in Provence
A file image of a black jaguar (Photo: Michal Zacharzewski)

Residents of Alpes-de-Haute-Provence have become more and more concerned about the black beast following eyewitness accounts from five people, and the discovery of 8-10cm long footprints in the hills.

One amateur video, shot at a distance, shows a large, black feline drinking water from a swimming pool.

Another witness, a fireman from the area, claims he spotted the panther shortly after the video was taken while out on a morning run. He claims the cat was “very tall, with a long black tail, and which ran off in two leaps.”

Speaking to local paper La Provence, head curator at the Aix natural history museum, Giles Cheylan, said: “The trail is almost definitely that of a big cat. Reports of the size suggest it could be a panther or a puma, but in any case the prints left behind belong to a big cat rather than a big dog."

As for the origin of the feline, Cheylan suggested it could come from a circus, or a private owner who raised it but decided to “get rid of it when it became too big”.

But authorities in the area are not taking the reports too seriously, claiming there is not yet sufficient evidence to start an investigation.


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Paris authorities to shut down bird market over cruelty concerns

The Paris city council on Wednesday agreed to shut down a live bird market operating in the historic centre close to Notre Dame cathedral, responding to rights activists who called it a cruel and archaic operation.

Paris authorities to shut down bird market over cruelty concerns
Photo: AFP

The bird market on Louis Lepine square in the centre of the French capital has long been a fixture in Paris, operating close to the famous flower market.

But Christophe Najdovski, Paris' deputy mayor in charge of animal welfare, said that the market was a centre for bird trafficking in France while conditions for the birds were not acceptable.

“This is why we are committed to changing the regulations to ban the sale of birds and other animals,” he said.

The closure had been urged by activists from the Paris Animals Zoopolis collective who had called the practice of showing the caged birds “cruel and archaic”.

France and Paris have in the last months adopted a series of measures aiming to show they are at the forefront of efforts to protect animal welfare.

The government said in September it planned to “gradually” ban mink farms as well the use of wild animals in travelling circuses and dolphins and orcas in theme parks.

Parc Asterix, which normally has some two million visitors a year, announced last month it would close its dolphin and sea lion aquarium.