Monday, August 27, 2012

The Shooters Hill Cheetah of 1963

"There is no new thing under the sun," as the good book says. So here is a post from Transpontine from March in this year.

It is an extract from the book Mystery Big Cats by Merrily Harpur, published by the Heart of Albion Press (which appears to have migrated from Market Harborough to Avebury recently):
The most famous labour-intensive hunt was for an animal dubbed by the press 'The Shooters Hill Cheetah'. On the 18th July 1963 David Beck, driving through Shooters Hill in south-east London, saw a large animal lying by the side of the road. Assuming it to be an injured dog he approached it, and then realised it was in fact a large cat with a long, upward curling tail. It ran off into Oxleas Wood. The same night police officers were amazed to see a 'large golden animal' jump over the bonnet of their patrol car. A check with zoos and circuses confirmed that no animals had escaped. 
It was a magnificent affair. It covered 850 acres and involved 126 policemen with 21 dogs, thirty soldiers, ambulance men and RSPCA officials. No sign of a big cat was found - except for some spoor. These were huge - some seven inches across, the size usually associated with a lion or tiger; yet they showed claw marks, the characteristic not of a lions, but of a cheetah's paw print. The 'cheetah', however, was never caught and the hunters dispersed.
Thanks to @Heresy_Corner on Twitter for the idea.

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