Panther captured in France rooftop rescue is stolen from zoo
The big, black cat was spotted stalking across the roofs in the north of the country.
A black panther, which caused chaos in a northern French town after it was spotted prowling on the roof of an apartment building, has been stolen from the zoo where it was being kept.
In a surprising twist to the tale, which seemed to have ended after the big cat was captured in a daring rooftop rescue in Armentieres on September 18, police and administrators have now said the panther has been stolen.
La Voix du Nord reported that the animal, which had been held for a week at nearby Maubeuge Zoo for its own safety, was discovered missing during a morning inspection. The state of the pen the panther had been held in, which was not guarded at night, indicated the animal had been stolen.
Police in Maubeuge have said they believe the black cat was specifically targeted by thieves. The padlocks securing the animal’s cage had been severed with bolt cutters while no break in was detected at the zoo’s entrances and exits.
Authorities have said the panther may have been taken back by the exotic animal’s original owner. The shadowy individual is still being sought for questioning by police in Armentieres after the panther was let loose on the townspeople last week.
“There was a real desire to take back the animal,” Jimmy Ebel, director of the zoo said. The tourist site near the Belgian border has remained open because theft took place in a quarantine area away from main attractions.
The Mayor of Maubeuge, Arnaud Decagny, said in a statement on Facebook that, like the vets that had been caring for the panther, he was in a state of shock over the theft.
“I hope that the investigation will have a positive and rapid outcome,” he added.
Police in Maubeuge and Armentieres are coordinating to find the panther. Forensic investigators have collected fingerprints at the zoo and have analysed CCTV footage captured from nearby.
The so-called ‘Armentieres Panther’ made headlines last week after it was spotted stalking across the guttering of a terraced housing building. The animal, aged between five to six months, poked its head through the window of on apartment, shocking the family living inside.
The panther was eventually captured after it was shot with a tranquiliser dart.
It was unclear how the owner, who has been identified to police by neighbours, had acquired the exotic cat, or how they had planned to care for it.
Published: September 25, 2019 08:06 PM