Last July a zoo owner reported to the Plymouth Herald that he thinks the Beast of Dartmoor that people have been seeing over the years was actually a pack of pumas. He said they were released into the wild about 30 years ago. Zoo owner Benjamin Mee said, “I even saw one when I first came here in 2006. They used to come out into the village. I saw one by a crossing.” (Drawing of a black wolf above right by Jasmina Susak.)
Mee added, “The farmers don’t want the publicity and wouldn’t tell you this if you asked but there were a lot of animals lost to the pumas during those years.”
The founder of the British Big Cats Society, Danny Bamping, said in the same article, “When the zoo was shut down, Mary Chipperfield [now deceased] agreed to transfer her five pumas to [then-owner Ellis] Daw at Dartmoor Wildlife Park. But when they arrived, Ellis told me that there were only two pumas in the consignment but five tags in the cage. Mary Chipperfield told Ellis she had broken down on Dartmoor and that somehow three of the pumas had escaped. We think she let them out on the moor.” (Photo of Chipperfield, left.)
The pumas haven’t been seen in the area for a while now, and Mee speculates that they didn’t survive the winter of 2010, the coldest winter in recorded history.
I’m wondering why zoo owner Mee decided to tell us about this now. Was it to draw attention away from the fact that at the time of the Herald article publication his staff was actively looking for a lynx that had just escaped his facility? No word on whether they found it. (Photo below of a Canadian lynx.)
Truth or Fiction
We can believe the pumas were lost to the wild and spent almost 30 years tearing up the local farm animals. The fact they haven’t been seen in six years correlates well with the terrible winter of 2010 when they probably died. (Photo of a puma, below right.)
There is too much history, too much time, and too great an area to say these pumas explain all the sightings.
I’ve covered the possibilities in my other articles on this fascinating topic. You can find them in the References section below, so I’m not going to repeat it all here. But suffice to say there is a lot more to the Beasts of Britain story than meets the eye.
Still, I’m glad to know about these pumas. They are another wonderful facet in this gem of a cryptozoology story, but they’re not the whole story.
I’ll keep you posted if I find anymore about these mysterious Beasts! Til the next time!