Shropshire Star

Tiger King's Carole Baskin claims big cat spotted in the region is Black Leopard and urges people not to run if they see it

The identity of a mysterious creature seen roaming a Staffordshire nature reserve may have finally been revealed.

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A creature similar to the black leopard has been seen in the countryside in Staffordshire

The CEO of Big Cat Rescue, Carole Baskin of Tiger King fame, has said that the black furred creature seen enjoying the surroundings of Ford Green Nature Reserve in Stoke-on-Trent is very likely to be a black leopard.

Ms Baskin was speaking as a guest of Jeremy Kyle Live on Talk TV, which was featuring a piece on big cats being discovered in public areas, with the British Big Cat society saying there were around 500 to 600 reports of big cat sightings across the UK each year.

This included an incident in July in Dumfries in Scotland where a high alert was put out after what was described as a panther was discovered, while the Beast of Bodmin Moor in Cornwall has become the stuff of legends since being first sighted in 1995.

The story was being discussed on the daily show after documentary makers claimed earlier this week that they had found the clearest ever photo of a panther-like creature relaxing in the long grass at Ford Green Nature Reserve.

Ms Baskin, who runs Big Cat Rescue in Tampa in Florida and rose to fame on Netflix's Tiger King, was on the show with Rick Minter from the Big Cat Conversation Podcast.

She spoke about the identity of the creature and how it may have ended up roaming wild in the Staffordshire countryside, mentioning what the 1976 Dangerous Animals Act meant for those releasing animals out into the wild.

She said: "I think it's very likely that it is a black leopard because I've worked with big cats for the past 40 years and the smartest cats, bar none, are the leopards and the black leopards as they just disappear into the landscape.

"By the time you get your camera out, they're gone and they can be right in front of you and you wouldn't even know they were there.