Filmmakers say they've found the 'clearest' photo proving a big cat is roaming the UK countryside

The makers of a new documentary believe they have found the 'clearest' photo of wild big cat in the UK.

The image, as shown in the new award-winning documentary Panthera Britannia Declassified, shows a large, muscular black panther-like cat lying in long grass in Smallthorne, Staffordshire.
It was found in the files of a zoology organisation and was marked 'March 17', but no year was listed.

If the photo is real, experts say it is 'probably the best photo of a British big cat that exists'.

The image will be featured in the documentary, alongside several other potential pieces of evidence supporting the existence of big cats in the British countryside.

The picture was unearthed by the assistant director of a center for zoology when he was working in their archives.

“The photo is unambiguous, it is clearly a large cat of the Panthera genus, and it’s so clear we can even see its whiskers," he said.

''The photo was attached to a mysterious handwritten letter, which includes a date without the year, isn’t signed with a full name, and doesn’t have the sender’s address.
''But it does state the photo was taken and if it’s genuine, then it’s the probably the best photo of a British big cat that exists.”

The films also has new DNA evidence proving the presence of at least one wild big cat near a sheep-kill in Gloucestershire in July 2022.
Tim Whittard, producer of Panthera Britannia Declassified, said: ''This astonishing lost photograph and amazing new scientific discovery form only a fraction of the collective evidence on display in the film." He added: “The documentary is predominantly data driven. We used real science and real experts, and tried to be as objective and analytical as possible." Whittard said the team behind the documentary spent thousands of hours researching and interviewing hundreds of eyewitnesses.
''The result is a mind-blowing voyage of discovery for viewers, which really takes this forward as serious zoological issue," he said.

He continued: “The story is a sad one really - these majestic big cats could be legally owned without a license in the UK until 1976 and were very popular, being seen as fashionable status symbols at the time.

''When the laws surrounding exotic animal ownership changed a lot of people released their big cats into the countryside."

He said the animals being spotted in the wild now are the offspring of these abandoned pets.

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