The Surrey Puma is a phantom “big cat ” which has been reportedly spotted prowling around the Home Counties since at least the late 1950s – and a new discovery has deepened the mystery.
Sightings are often discounted as myths because it’s been suggested it would be impossible for an animal of that size to survive for so long.
But now some of the best evidence for a giant cat has been found – in the shape of a deer carcass which has been stripped to the bone.
Surrey resident John Moorwood was on a Father’s Day walk with his 12-year-old son, Fred, when they came across the deer carcass which he says had been “completely stripped” of its flesh.
Some of the deer’s legs had been detached from the animal’s body and nothing but the “bright red” rib cage remained.
Mr Moorwood, 47, told Surrey Live : “The sight was enough for me to Google ‘big cats’ in the area we were in.
“It’s hard to imagine a native predator taking down a deer, or even finding one dead and stripping it clean in so little time.”
On Sunday, Mr Moorwood and Fred had driven to The Hurtwood for a five-mile walk in the wilderness of the Surrey Hills.
It was in the last mile of the walk the pair made the bizarre discovery.
They were walking along a pathway close to Farley Green village which Mr Moorwood described it as an “ancient byway”.
“We heard the unbelievably intense sound of flies buzzing and saw something bright red in the middle of the track,” he said.
“A dead animal isn’t unusual on a countryside walk but as I got closer, I realised it was quite a big carcass, that of a deer.”
He explained: “I was surprised by the apparent fresh nature of it and the way it had been stripped right down to the bone. There was no rotten smell, which also told me it was fresh.”
The first recorded sitting of a big cat in the area dates back to 1770.
William Cobbett, a farmer from Farnham in west Surrey, said that when he was young, he was sitting by a hollow elm tree near Waverley Abbey when he spotted “a big grey cat, as big as a middle-sized spaniel dog”.
Corbett compared the animal he had seen to a “great wild grey cat” that he had seen while in New Brunswick which he stated “seemed to me to be just such a cat as I had seen at Waverley”.
Sceptics point out that it’s impossible big cats have been surviving, and breeding, in the Home Counties for all this time because they only have a natural life span of some 20 years.
By email@example.com (Emma Pengelly, Michael Moran)