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In the past twenty years every county in Britain, from Caithness to Cornwall, has had recurrent sightings of 'big cats' - described as being like pumas or panthers. These anomalous big cats sightings are now running at an estimated 1,200 a year.
Farmers, gamekeepers, ornithologists, policemen and even parents on the school run have all been thrilled - or terrified - to see what they assume is a big cat escaped from a zoo. Yet these big cats are neither escapees from zoos nor, as this book conclusively argues, the descendants of pets released into the countryside by their owners in 1976 when the Dangerous Wild Animals Act made it too expensive to keep big cats.
The questions therefore remain, what are they and where have they come from? With the orthodox explanations overturned, Merrily Harpur searches for clues in the cultures of other times and places. She discovers our mystery felines have been with us for longer than we imagine, and throws unexpected light on the way Western civilisation looks at the world.