Panther sightings have residents freaked, experts skeptical
Published: Tuesday, February 22, 2011, Benjamin Alexander-Bloch, The Times-Picayune By
Follow In the New Orleans area, panther hysteria is at fever pitch.resident Randy Davis was sitting at home in his equipment room late Saturday night when on his surveillance monitor he noticed a large cat walk across his asphalt driveway. On closer inspection, Davis thinks the image is that of a black panther.With residents reporting near daily sightings, you'd think we were under attack.Truth is, the myth of the black panther in Louisiana - and throughout the United States - has a long phantom existence, according to physiologists and biologists.Maria Davidson, the large carnivore program manager for the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, calmly explained that the only black panthers in existence are black jaguars found in South America and black leopards that live in Asia and Africa.The North American black panther generally falls under the term "cryptid," a creature whose existence has been suggested but is not recognized by the scientific community and has been deemed highly unlikely. Bigfoot and the Loch Ness Monster fall under that category.They also have been called "phantom cats," "alien big cats" (ABCs), and in certain circles, the sightings have been dubbed "panther paranoia."
Last weekend, two panther sightings were reported, one in St. Tammany Parish and one in Plaquemines Parish. A few days earlier, a man in St. Bernard Parish said he and his wife saw one sitting a block from their garage, staring at them calmly, before darting into nearby woods
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