A black panther gave the small French town of Armentières quite the fright when residents saw it prowling the rooftops Wednesday afternoon.
Nicknamed the “Panther of Armentieres”, the feline was reportedly prowling in and out of a second-story window for almost an hour as it wandered along the gutter of a block of six houses, according to local news agencies. Firefighters, police, and animal experts were called to the scene, where officials formed a cordon in case the animal jumped while officials carefully snuck inside so as not to startle the feline, reports the BBC.
When the animal once again retreated back inside, firefighters placed a ladder along the gutter to block the window as others snuck in through the door. A vet tranquilized the cat after around 2.5 hours. The cat is no more than five to six months old and is relatively small, about the size of a “small labrador” weighing around 20 kilograms (44 pounds), officials told French publication La Voix du Nord. Manicured claws and its relatively docile demeanor suggests the animal has been domesticated by an owner.
After its capture, the cat was transported to a wildlife agency for the night before being relocated to the Maubeuge Zoo located about an hour outside of the small town.
Black “panthers” are really just leopards (Panthera pardus) or jaguars (Panthera onca) with a black coat. Generally speaking, black panthers most commonly refers to black-coated leopards from Africa and Asia, which are listed as “vulnerable” by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) as populations around the world continue to decrease from their native range. Jaguars, endemic to Central and South America, are listed as “near threatened”. Both species are primarily threatened by human activities that include development, agriculture, energy production, hunting, and trapping. A darker threat to Panthera species includes the exotic pet trade. Both species of big cats are listed as protected under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), an international agreement between governments to ensure international trade of wild animals and plants does not threaten their survival.
Police are reportedly looking for the owner of the Panther of Armentieres.