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Leopard escapes in Cornwall over Christmas

Leopard escapes in Cornwall over Christmas

Published by the Pirate FM News Team at 2:58pm 15th January 2018. (Updated at 8:06am 16th January 2018)

Officials say a leopard ended up on the loose in Cornwall over Christmas because of a freak flood, triggered by the storms.

Police confirm the big cat got out from a private enclosure near Fowey on Boxing Day.

Pirate FM understands it was free for five days - and was only caught after a farmer laid traps.

The story has caused a stir on social media - but Danny Bamping, from the British Big Cats Society, says the animals are not as scary as we may think.

He said: "They're going to steer clear of humans at all costs - especially the ones that are more feral.

"One that's more domesticated, it's not going to attack anyone I don't think - I would think it's going to go and look to kill easy prey like sheep and rabbits and stuff.

"I wouldn't advise to approach it, certainly, but I would just say to observe it and stand still.

"Once they know they have been spotted by a human, within seconds they will be vanishing or going in the opposite direction."

Other experts warned the animal could have been feeling frightened once it had escaped.

Communications manager for Newquay and Paignton Zoo Phil Knowling said: "In these situations, our first concern is for the safety and the welfare of the animal.

"Once it is out of its normal, familiar surroundings, it is likely to be feeling stressed and frightened."

Following the escape and recapture, Cornwall Council has confirmed the owner did have a dangerous wild animal license.

A spokesperson said: "The owner of the animal that escaped does have the appropriate dangerous wild animal license.

"A full audit of the premises and licence has been undertaken and the circumstances surrounding the escape fully investigated.

"The incident occurred due to an unforeseeable severe weather event causing a flood in an area not known to be subject to flooding.

"The owner has taken appropriate measures to prevent possible future flooding events from affecting the security of the site."

It also is claimed the leopard had attacked some sheep, owned by a local farmer.

A spokesperson for Devon and Cornwall Police said: "Police were informed by the owner of a clouded leopard that his animal had escaped its inner compound on Boxing Day [Tuesday 26 December 2017] in Fowey.

"The leopard was still in its outer compound and efforts were being made by the owner to re-capture the animal.

"Officers were then informed by a local farmer that the leopard had broken out of its compound and had allegedly attacked some of his sheep.

"The animal was re-captured".

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