We heard on the grapevine yesterday that the body of a dead panther had been discovered in north-western Sydney, so we raced to the scene to exhume and examine the potential big cat.
Unfortunately, as most often happens, truth was a little less stranger than the fiction! Actually a lot less strange, as it turned out to be a domestic cat!
And in a classic communication breakdown with the media, a rather funny line appears in the news story below.
As you read, keep in mind CFZer Mike Williams told the reporter from the outset the cat was a 'big FELIS CATUS', not a 'big fearless cat'.
Has the Hills' big cat been found?
A PARTIALLY decomposed body of the mysterious “panther” has been found on a South Maroota property, reigniting speculation on the existence of a big cat roaming Hills bushland.
On November 28, Geoff Nowland’s three American staffies brought the dead panther to him, prompting him to call his mate Peter Spiteri to come over and have a look.
"When I looked at it, I could not tell what it was and it freaked me out a bit,” Mr Spiteri said.
“It definitely did not look like any dog or feral cat I have ever seen, especially with the fangs and teeth it has on it.”
Mr Spiteri said a week before the dogs found the dead panther, Mr Nowland’s puppy was mauled so badly it nearly had one of its legs amputated.
“The vet was very concerned and did not know what could have attacked the puppy so badly to cause it such severe injuries,” he said.
“I know there have been a lot of sightings of this panther out here, but it is pretty freaky to see it up close.”
The pair have buried the dead panther on Mr Nowland’s property because of the stink and to stop the dogs from getting at it.
Friend of the pair and Maraylya rally car driver Bruce Garland was the first to alert the Hills Shire Times to the images of the panther just before it was buried.
“There have been sightings of this panther out here for years and the other day it was sighted on the golf course at Riverside Oaks,” Mr Garland said.
“I think this panther was found on this property because it was either sick or it was protecting its own little ones. There definitely has to be more than one roaming around.”
Panther expert Mike Williams, who was involved in the famous 2005 dead panther shooting incident in Gippsland by a Victorian hunter, has lent his expertise to the Times to examine, measure and take samples from our dead animal.
Mr Williams and his partner Rebecca Lang launched their book Australian Big Cats: An Unnatural History of Panthers earlier this year.
Late yesterday, Mr Williams was digging up the animal’s body at the property to take measurements and samples.
“This would have been a very stocky muscular animal,” he said upon finding the two week old carcass.
“I would say it is a “big fearless cat” and in “big” I mean it is not your typical domestic animal, it has been crossed or mutated in some way.
“This is exciting and we definitly have something very interesting here. It could have done a lot of damage to the Australian wildlife.
“It would have been three to four times bigger then what we found, two weeks ago when it was buried.”