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Carlisle Big Cat (2009)
The following article by Phil Coleman entitled 'Police Probe After Puma-Like Creature Spotted In Carlisle' appeared in the News & Star on 17 October 2009.
A large puma-like creature was reported to be prowling on waste-ground near Carlisle’s Cumberland Infirmary, sparking a police investigation.
Staff working at the city’s dental centre were mesmerised by the sight of the animal, which they described as being black and distinctly feline, but as long and as large as an Alsatian dog.
They spotted it on Monday afternoon, strolling across a patch of gassy wasteland near bushes next to the infirmary’s incinerator unit.
“I looked out of the window and just saw this creature coming out of the bushes,” said dental nurse Bonita Curr, 50.
“I could see straight away that it was not a domestic cat: it was far too big. The back of its spine was the height of an Alsatian and the head looked like a lynx.
“It had the elongated body, but it was easily as long as an Alsatian. It just strolled out on to the grass and stood there for a few moments then just ambled away from us.
“By this time all the other dental nurses were watching, and one of them said: that’s either a lynx or a puma.
“It just took its time, wandered all the way down to the trees, sat down, then stood up again and walked on until it was out of sight. Within moments of it disappearing near the bushes, we saw a chap walking his dog coming towards us.”
Bonita then rang the police to raise the alarm, telling them what she and her colleagues had just seen.
“The young lady I spoke to said she wasn’t quite sure what to do,” said Bonita.
“I was just really surprised – totally amazed. It was a lovely creature, elegant almost. It didn’t seem at all bothered about where it was.
“It was just ambling around for four or five minutes. It was seen by myself and at least two colleagues.
“I realised later we had not taken a picture but we were frightened to look away.”
Bonita’s colleague, fellow dental nurse Sarah Twentyman, 25, spoke of her astonishment at seeing the creature through the front window of the Dental Centre.
She said: “I just walked into the room and said: ‘Oh my God – what’s that Bonita?’
“It was absolutely amazing – a lot bigger than a domestic cat and pure black. It was out there in broad daylight. There were children and families walking about. It just walked right past us.”
The cat was also seen – on land at the opposite side of the Infirmary – by Menzies worker Louise Tickner, who watched from a first floor window of the Infirmary on Monday afternoon.
“It was a cat but it looked very, very big,” said Louise.
A spokeswoman for Cumbria Police said the investigation would be handled by its wildlife officer PC John Shaw, who is based in Keswick.
“We’ll monitor the situation to see if we have any more sightings,” she added.
Steve Pearson, general manager of Interserve FM, which looks after security at the Cumberland Infirmary, said his staff were also alerted about the big cat sighting.
He added: "We sent a patrol around the site to take a look. The patrol didn’t notice anything out of the norm."