'Black Panther' Reportedly Seen Crossing Roadway in New Zealand


A New Zealand woman recently reported an encounter with a black panther on the east coast of South Island, according to the New Zealand Herald.

Juliearna Kavanagh was driving with her partner, Warren Lewis, around 11:30 p.m. when a huge, black animal bound across the road just a few feet in front of the car.

"It was in full flight; it was big and sleek and with a cat's head and a huge tail," said Kavanagh.

"We both looked at each other, thinking what the heck had just happened?" she continued. "We pulled off the road, slightly hysterical and went through every animal that it could possibly be, but nothing made sense. It was shocking,"

The sighting came as Kavanaugh slowed down to go around a bend in the road.

"It was just there, right in front of our headlights, right out of the blue," she said. "It was so quick; it was either chasing something or had heard our car."

But she is certain that what she saw was a black panther.

"A big cat isn't the first thing that we naturally thought of, after all we don't live in a country where you expect to see them. But that's what it was," Kavanaugh said. "I don't scare easily, I've seen some s***, but it was big, quick and black and I was struck by how big its tail was. If that was a feral cat, it's a feral cat on steroids. Curiosity killed the cat but it's not the cat I'm worried about."

Kavanaugh contacted the police and Ministry of Primary Industries about her encounter.

"I couldn't live with myself if I'd kept quiet and then it attacked a small child or livestock," she explained.

There are no known species of big cats native to New Zealand, but sightings of panthers have been reported on South Island since at least the 1990s; mostly centered around the Canterbury region.

Some believe the black panther sightings could come as a result of escapees from a private collection, although officials maintain they are simply misidentified feral cats.

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