Wednesday, January 3, 2007
THE ANGLER AND THE 'PANTHER'
5th January 1975
Angler Fred Lloyd was enjoying a days fishing on the banks of the River Medway when he was disturbed by a rustling in the bushes. Whilst attempting to concentrate on his still float he was startled by the appearance of a two-foot long black leopard cub, which emerged from the undergrowth, almost rolling towards him.
The cat allegedly began to hiss at the shocked fisherman who rather bravely, acting spontaneously, grasped the furred critter by the back of the neck and put it in his fishing box, and took the beast home. Whether this is merely the detail of legend or not, but according to some reports Fred put the cat in a playpen at home but the felid shredded it. Mr Lloyd then began to phone around the local zoo parks to ask if they'd lost a 'panther' but to no avail.
Twenty-four hours later the RSPCA arrived on the scene the cat and found a home for it at Godstone, in Surrey.
Strangely enough, a couple of weeks after Fred's encounter, he learned that a zoo at Colchester had in fact lost a black leopard cub, it's name being Zar, which, at the time, was said to have been worth £500. The eight-week old animal had apparently been stolen on the 4th January, but whether this was the same animal that turned up on the muddy banks of Kent seems unlikely.
Nothing ever seemed to come of this tale, and the two stories never seemed make sense with one another, as an eight-week old cub missing from a zoo some fifty miles away doesn't seem to match a two-foot long cat found the next day.
It seems that Mr Lloyd will go down in Kent folklore as being one of the only people to ever grapple with one of the counties mystery cats!