Did Welwyn Garden City father and daughter spot black panther?

PUBLISHED: 11:59 05 July 2017 | UPDATED: 14:22 05 July 2017

Left: Rob Beck and his seven-year-old daughter Macie. Right: A stock image of a panther, similar to what Rob says he spotted in Welwyn Garden City.

Left: Rob Beck and his seven-year-old daughter Macie. Right: A stock image of a panther, similar to what Rob says he spotted in Welwyn Garden City.

Archant

A man and his young daughter are convinced they saw a big black cat in Welwyn Garden City and described it as being the size of an adult Labrador.

Rob Beck, 37, of Panshanger, was on a bike ride on Sunday with his wife and his two daughters, aged five and seven, when he spotted the large animal.

The family were cycling from Letty Green to Cole Green Lane when they spotted the cat by Holywell Hyde.

Rob told the Welwyn Hatfield Times: “I was cycling with my seven-year-old by my side and my five-year-old daughter was far behind with my wife.

“Me and my daughter saw a big cat sitting about 30 metres in front of us. It was just sitting in the middle of the path staring straight at us.

“It was so much bigger than a normal cat and it had really big round ears, it was black, and it was the size of a fully grown Labrador.”

Before Rob could get a picture of the cat, it walked off into the bushes on the side of the path which leads to a field.

Rob added: “It was pretty stupid to do looking back but we looked for this big cat for a while. We couldn’t find it as there are a lot of fields in the surrounding area.

“When I got home I went on Google to see if I could find a picture of anything like it and the closest I got were pictures of black panthers.

Rob and his daughter Macie. Rob and his daughter Macie.

“I know there have been a few sightings of a big cat around the county so I am absolutely convinced I saw a large cat and not a house pet.”

Accounts of sightings have been happening all over the county in recent months.

In January two Oaklands College staff members saw “a large, sandy-coloured cat” and scratch marks were found on a tree after a “huge animal” was seen near Welwyn.

A Wheathampstead dog-walker recently found the mutilated corpse of a muntjac deer, stripped of meat, and recently large pawprints were found in an Aldwickbury golf bunker, preserved after a night of rain.

In early June a driver spotted an animal dart out in front of her car near Redbourn - it had “well-defined muscles in its legs” and was a “gingery, sandy colour”, she said.

Herts Police have received about 30 big cats reports in the last five years. They advise a safe distance is kept and any sightings are reported on 101.

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