More sightings of big cats come to light

RESIDENTS tell of mysterious sightings of big cats in the Suffolk countryside.

Danielle Nuttall

WHAT lurks within the Suffolk countryside?

Since the East Anglian Daily Times revealed the mysterious sighting of a lynx-type cat in Shingle Street, near Woodbridge, on Easter Sunday, other Suffolk residents have told of their own big cat encounters.

Tony and Sara Bloor, who run a shoe shop in Leiston, were driving to a car boot sale shortly after 6am on Sunday, February 24, when a black panther-type cat walked out into the road in front of them.

The strange experience happened on a country lane between Westleton and Theberton, near Saxmundham, and left the couple completely dumbfounded.

Mr Bloor, 44, said: “We were going to a car boot sale early in the morning when it was just about getting light. As we turned the corner we both saw it.

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“It looked like a black panther. I would say it was 5ft-6ft long and standing 2.5ft high.

“It walked out in front of us and jumped up a 6ft bank and then into a gap in the fence.

“If I'd seen it on my own, I would have thought I was going stir crazy. But I said to my wife: 'What is it?' and she said: 'A big cat'.

“We were dumbfounded. You see something and you think: Did I really just see what I saw?

“It didn't run. It wasn't in a hurry. It walked across in front of us, then leapt up the bank and we saw its full profile. There is absolutely no doubt - it was a big cat.”

Later that day Mrs Bloor, 41, rang her mother to tell her what she saw and was amazed to be told that her father had seen a giant black cat in the same road a couple of years earlier.

“He was going out early one morning to Lowestoft and took a short cut and apparently he stopped his vehicle and phoned his wife to say 'you will never believe what I have just seen - a big cat',” said Mr Bloor.

“It's strange that two people within the same family have seen a big cat on the same road.”

Mr Bloor said the big cat sightings had been the talk of the village.

Residents in nearby villages have reported similar experiences.

Jane Richardson, from Bredfield, near Woodbridge, was walking her dog in a field the week before Easter when she saw a panther-like animal mooching across the grass in the distance.

Mrs Richardson said the animal was too long and large to be a domestic dog or cat and had a tail as long as the ground which curled up.

And another resident reported seeing a black panther-type animal on allotments close to Garrison Lane in Felixstowe late on Friday.

According to the British Big Cat Society, there were 60 big cat sightings in Suffolk between April 2004 and July 2005 - the highest figure in East Anglia.

The society is currently compiling new research into the phenomenon.

On Saturday, Heidi Hawley, a prison officer at Warren Hill jail at Hollesley, near Woodbridge, told the EADT of her amazement at being confronted by a giant cat while on her way to work in her car.

The cat, which had similar colouring to a lynx, was spotted in a country lane in Shingle Street, near Woodbridge, and was the size of a large dog.

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