In Britain, a lynx has been discovered by a museum, which is thought to be the notorious “Beast of Bodmin”. This discovery provides evidence that large felines once inhabited the rural areas. However, it still does not verify the existence of the mythic Beast of Bodmin.
The Bristol Museum and Art Gallery has made a fascinating discovery – a stuffed Canadian lynx from the early 1900s. This large animal, which is twice the size of a domestic cat, was shot by a landowner in Devon after killing two dogs. Researchers from four UK universities have reason to believe that this may be the earliest recorded instance of an “alien big cat” in the British Isles. The team speculates that this lynx may have been part of a traveling menagerie, as exotic creatures were commonly featured in such shows prior to the advent of zoos. By examining the lynx’s teeth and plaque, the scientists also suggest that it had been held in captivity before being set free. Dr. Ross Barnett, the lead researcher from Durham University’s Department of Archaeology, notes that “This Edwardian feral lynx provides concrete evidence that, although rare, exotic felids have occasionally been part of British fauna for more than a century.”
At present, there is no substantial proof to validate the notion that large felines can mate in the wild in Britain. Nonetheless, a species comparable to the Canadian Eurasian Lynx once inhabited the United Kingdom, but it became extinct in the 7th century. A recent study published in Historical Biology disapproves of another prevalent theory concerning the existence of big cats in Britain. Formerly, it was believed that all of these animals were set free after the Wild Animals Act of 1976 was implemented, prohibiting the possession of exotic pets. However, Dr. Darren Naish, a co-author of the study from the University of Southampton, proposes that such creatures have probably escaped intermittently throughout history. Numerous sightings of extraordinary big cats were documented before 1976, indicating that a solitary law is unlikely to be accountable for the release of these animals in the UK.
Numerous reports of large feline creatures continue to emerge in various parts of the UK. A study by the British Big Cat Society revealed that from April 2004 to July 2005, there were 2,123 sightings, with most occurring in the South West region. In Essex, a couple on vacation near Clacton-on-Sea reported seeing a large feline creature, prompting a massive police search involving firearms officers, thermal imaging equipment, and experts from Colchester Zoo. Despite the extensive search, the animal was not found. The Ministry of Agriculture investigated the Beast of Bodmin in 1995 but found no credible evidence of a loose cat, despite footprints and suspected livestock killings. However, physical evidence was found in 1980 when a farmer discovered Felicity the puma in Aberdeenshire. Similarly, in 1993, a leopard was reportedly killed while attacking chickens in the Isle of Wight.