As we reported earlier, a surveillance camera installed on the outskirts of Kiskunhalas showed a big cat, identified by many as a black panther. However, the African predator cannot tolerate the sub-zero temperatures, and since it has probably never hunted before, foraging could become a serious problem for it. It does not attack humans without a reason unless it feels threatened, experts warn. Police are currently searching for the animal.
This article was originally published on our sister-site, Ungarn Heute. Translated by Júlia Tar.
It turned out in the meantime that there are no black panthers missing in the Hungarian zoos, if it is at all for certain this species. Otherwise, national legislation prohibits private individuals from keeping these animals,”
Zoltán Hanga, press officer of the Budapest Zoo and Botanical Garden, told 24.hu, pointing out that although the relevant decree places this species in the highest category of “particularly dangerous species,” it is still possible that someone has kept the animal illegally.
FactA black panther is a leopard (Panthera pardus) or jaguar (Panthera onca) whose fur has a continuous black coloration, instead of the usual black rosettes on a golden-yellow base. Under favorable lighting conditions, however, the actual spotted coat pattern can still be seen. Thus, these panthers are not a separate species, but a form of melanism.
Police officers are currently providing constant information to the potentially affected population and have provided technical equipment at the locations identified by experts.
Black panther in mortal danger
“If the animal did not come to us from Africa, but escaped from somewhere, and even if people raised him illegally, fed him, and gave him a warm place, the animal is now in danger. These animals cannot survive the cold weather in December, and since it has probably never hunted in its life, it may have serious problems finding food.”
Even getting water could be a problem. The serval recently captured in Bükk probably died of thirst rather than starvation; it looked dehydrated and was very eager to drink water when it came to us,”
Zoltán Hanga further explained. At the same time, he also warns that the weakened animal died within a few days, despite expert care.
The head veterinarian of the Budapest Zoo, Endre Sós, told radio station Inforadio that he was not sure if the animal in the video was a black panther.
“It could be, but we would have to check where the camera was positioned, from what distance the animal came, and scale it. If the animal is a black panther, it is definitely a runaway animal and this is not its habitat,” he said.
It is a dangerous animal that should not be approached
“And if someone encounters it, they should report it immediately so experts can take care of it,” the veterinarian said. The panther does not consider humans as prey, but pets, including dogs and cats, are. It is very important that we take special care of our animals in the affected areas and, of course, of ourselves.”
In the latest statement from police, they also point out that the panther in its natural habitat roams large areas, so is probably no longer only in the city or vicinity of Kiskunhalas. In general, experience shows that an animal that escapes from a zoo tries to find its way back. Instinctively, it tries to return from the unfamiliar, frightening environment to its familiar, safe surroundings.
If caught, it will be taken to a zoo where it will be examined, treated, and, if necessary, rehomed. Since it was probably kept without a permit, it is unlikely to be returned to its original owner.
Sources: 24.hu, Inforstart.hu
Featured image: illustration via Pixabay