Louisiana 'Black Panther' Mystery Solved

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Earlier this month, a family in Acadiana, La., saw and photographed a large, mysterious black cat. Believing they might have seen a panther or other feral cat, they contacted wildlife officials, who told them that while cougars do exist in the area, they are not all black.

According to a news report by Hope Ford of KLFY-TV, at around 7:30 pm, a large black animal was spotted in the field behind a home.

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"You could see it from the fence and it was pretty big," said Karen Fory, whose brother-in -law first noticed the animal. "So, I came back to the truck and got the binoculars," Fory explained.

Cathy Irwin, who lives in the home, said Fory called her over immediately to see what they considered to be a black panther. "We were standing about 100 feet away and you could see it," Irwin said. "It was very large."

Fory took several photographs of the animal before it wandered behind some trees.

Acadiana's Multi-Media News Station

"It's a very dangerous animal, and anything can happen at any given time with that, especially with the children in these neighborhoods," Irwin told the TV station. So she called Wildlife and Fisheries agents, who came to investigate but found no trace of the feline, nor were there any other reports of the creature.

The cat does indeed look unusually large in the photographs Fory provided to the news media and wildlife officials. But it's important to note the image was shot on a high-definition camera, which means it can be greatly enlarged, and that she used a telephoto lens, which magnifies the size of the image.

Even small and medium-sized objects can appear very large when photographed through zoom lenses and enlarged. This doesn't suggest that the image is hoaxed or staged in any way, just that when most people see the image they may not realize how small the cat is compared to the rest of the scene.

In order to help judge the size of the mysterious feline in the photographs, wildlife officials followed up by bringing with them a life-size silhouette of a puma, and photographed it in the same location (a short video analysis can be found on YouTube). The conclusion: The "black panther" was much smaller than the eyewitnesses estimated - and than the photographs made it appear - and was likely a large domestic house cat prowling for bugs and rodents.

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This is not the first time that a large domestic cat has been sighted and mistaken for a big cat. Last year a "lion" was reported and photographed in Essex, England. It caused a brief panic as police were called and children were warned to stay indoors lest they be mauled by the ferocious beast. However a woman identified her Maine Coon house cat (which is one of the world's largest domestic breeds) named Teddy Bear as the "Essex Lion" that briefly terrorized the area.

People are simply not very good at estimating the size of objects, especially when they are excited or alarmed. Unknown objects may seem larger than they actually are, and details can become confused. This is not only a lesson in eyewitness testimony and perception, but perhaps more importantly good news for the residents of Acadiana.


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Well so what if it is a black panther, it has not hurt anyone and seems to be doing alright on its own. In Florida we have tried to protect out panthers, but some people are afraid of nature and the balance that needs to be maintained! People need to educate themselves on the need to respect nature and leave a smaller footprint in their time on this earth.

January 15 2014 at 4:21 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Hot Hot Daddy

whats next! trigger happy cops will shoot it.

January 12 2014 at 6:40 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

cats ears and eyes are shaped different!, all objects are closer not just the cat!, but wait we are dumb southerns the gov. is always right if you don`t believe me just ask the GOV. they will tell you!

December 15 2013 at 12:29 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Juli Lestina

It's just a melanistic bobcat. It's a rare gene found in several species of animals. There is also the white counterpart, more commonly know as an albino. Florida is the only state with official records of bobcats with the melanistic gene.

December 09 2013 at 3:33 AM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Juli Lestina's comment

The Bobcat got its name from the fact that it's tail is bobbed (or shortened). The cat in the picture doesn't have a short tail or any other feature specific to Bobcats...with or without a "metanistic gene".

January 16 2014 at 4:39 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

There is a reason why they are called Stupid Southerners! Dumb as stumps! Get all revved up to kill a black house cat! First thing they say? KILL IT!

November 21 2013 at 10:58 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

yall had better get yuh shot gun loaded I saw one chasing a rabbit squealing like a women hollering better be safe than sorry shoot it then call wild life see what they say then Okayyyyyyy.

November 20 2013 at 5:21 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

even if it is a panther what u want to do, kill it? in texas we have panthers, they are not black they are sandy color...we already killed off the wolves which now the deer and the wild hogs have no natural predators and pretty much if you want to shoot a deer just step out your back yard and wait until dusk....the wild hogs are tearing up the ranches/farms...lets just kill everything that gets in our comfort zones until there is nothing left but humans!

November 05 2013 at 2:59 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I have a black cat and it is very large.....to me this looks like a domestic cat...but who knows!

November 05 2013 at 2:55 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Terri Strickland Joh

Aw shucks, they're no such things as bears, big cats, big snakes, or anything else that can eat your pets or kids in the Southern parts of the United States! Didn't y'all get the memo, us Southern rednecks are suppose to believe everything our betters say?! Seriously people, a house cat? Really? Think I'll keep my German Shepherd inside from now on, she might get attacked by all the "house cats" in the area!!!

October 06 2013 at 10:16 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

My husband and I had the exact same experience! Saw a large black cat across the lake, took pics, called wildlife and fisheries and they all poop-pooped on the thought of it being anything more than a very over sized house cat! That is BS, it was black panther!

October 01 2013 at 2:35 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
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