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Room 101


ABCs - Alien Big Cats in Wales?

This fortnight in Richard's Room we're leaving the non-aligned worlds of UFOs, conspiracy research and cult sci-fi for something much closer to home (for people in the UK anyway) and potentially very, VERY dangerous. We're taking a look at the Alien Big Cat, or ABC, phenomenon here in Wales and the rest of Great Britain generally.

Before we go on, it should be stressed that the "Alien" in "Alien Big Cats" has absolutely nothing to do with extraterrestrial aliens. Alien is simply another word for foreign. That is what is strange about these ABC sightings in the UK, there are not supposed to be any big cats roaming wild in the British countryside. Aside from this fact though, most of what people report seems perfectly normal and believable. Apart from the odd strange case, like Nick Redfern discussed in his appearance on BoA: Audio last December.

Anyone who listened to that interview will know that my younger sister (with a friend) actually had an ABC sighting in the Welsh countryside. It happened a couple of years ago. Basically, she saw what she said looked like a puma or other large black cat, and, for anyone who thinks this must have been a little tomcat seen from far away, the animal was carrying a very large, dead sheep in its mouth.

Of course, it sounds like an unlikely story but my sister is by no means alone. For many years now, people across Wales and the rest of the UK have reported seeing the same basic creatures in and around rural areas. Amazingly, in 2002 alone, a staggering 1,077 sightings across the UK were reported to the British Big Cat Society.

There have also been more than 40 such big cat sightings reported to police in North Wales since 2000. On top of that, imagine how many people could have seen or even just heard something unusual (like my mother has) and never reported it to the authorities. With its sparsely populated hills and ample supply of sheep for food, Wales would certainly be an ideal place for such animals to covertly live and multiply. However, where could they have come from? As we've already noted their are no known species of big cats native to Wales. So, how did they get here?

There are a couple intriguing theories on this. One of these I've always found interesting, is the idea that some of the exotic animals the Romans may have brought here to use in their amphitheatres could have escaped or even been let go into the wild. If not the Romans, maybe the ABCs originate from the Victorians. They also kept exotic pets and used big cats in their circuses. Another theory that has always intrigued me is the idea that the ABCs might not be "Alien" at all but instead an unidentified species of big cat native to Britain, perhaps survivors from the prehistoric past. Fossil evidence indicates that the lynx survived in Britain until at least 1,500 years ago, its extinction due to human activity rather than environmental changes. Maybe in more remote areas, like parts of Wales, some managed to survive into modern times.

However, perhaps the most likely explanation is the idea that the animals could have been released into the wild after the Dangerous Wild Animals Act (1976) came into force. Many big cat owners, of course, did not want to have their animals taken away or, even worse, put down, so they released them in remote locations where it is argued the animals could have survived and met up to establish ever growing feral populations.

There is some evidence for this theory too. For instance, the British Big Cat Society claims to have evidence of at least 23 such releases of big cats in Britain. Including a panther, pumas, lynxes and a host of exotics including caracals, ocelots and jungle cats.

But whatever the truth, one fact is certain, more and more people seem to be seeing these misplaced creatures. They're almost certainly very real and their numbers seem to be steadily increasing. Lets just hope we find some concrete evidence of their existence before someone gets hurt.


North East Wales Myths and Legends - Big Cat Sightings (BBC)
British Big Cats @ Answers.com
Over 1,000 Big Cats Seen (britishbigcats.org)

Richard Thomas, BoA UK Correspondent and Columnist.

Contact Richard :: boxstacker(at)aol.com

Richard Thomas is also a columnist for Alien Worlds magazine. Check it out !

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