GLOUCESTERSHIRE, United Kingdom — The alleged phenomena of big cats stalking the forests and outskirts of villages in the UK turned out to be a hoax this week after authorities caught an American feline planting “evidence” near the A40.
The perpetrator, who goes by the names Buddy the Cat, Kinich Bajo, The Buddinese Tiger and several other monikers, was spotted at the edge of the Forest of Dean using a ladder to create claw marks at roughly tiger height, Detective Inspector Alistair Clarke said.
When he realized he’d been made, the gray tabby cat yelled “Oh shit!” then bolted down the ladder and into the forest, Clarke told reporters.
Police called in a K9 unit, which was able to track a trail of crumbs and discarded turkey bones to a clearing where authorities discovered non-toxic black paint, a fog machine and a copy of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s 1977 docudrama Pumping Iron.
“It’s our belief that the suspect painted himself black, played prerecorded clips of various big cat roars, then posed menacingly amid the fog for the benefit of locals, mostly drunks stumbling out of local pubs,” Clarke said. “Choosing inveterate drunks as his primary witnesses ensured the resulting smartphone camera footage would be grainy, shaky and inconclusive, adding to the legend and mystique of phantom big cats in the countryside.”
Asked by a reporter whether Buddy’s dedication to weightlifting contributed to locals misidentifying him as a big cat, Clarke shook his head.
“We don’t think so, no,” he said. “Despite his apparent obsession with bulking up and the 63 bottles of protein powder we recovered, the suspect remains a tiny little stinker, which is why he carefully revealed himself only to the thoroughly inebriated.”
Buddy the Cat remained in a local lock-up awaiting extradition back to the US. His human told reporters the feline hadn’t said much about his predicament.
“He’s complained loudly about the food and said the British should be thanking him for increasing tourism to southern England, but other than that he’s kept a lid on his thoughts,” Big Buddy said.
In the meantime, the South Carolina state police forensics division and detectives from several US police departments have been in contact with UK authorities after similarities emerged between the fake big cat sightings and a series of bizarre crop circles in the US.
“We also found turkey bones and crumbs scattered around the crop circles, but at the time our working theory was that we were dealing with aliens who had a taste for turkey,” said one law enforcement official, who spoke on condition of anonymity. “Now we believe our cases may be connected to the UK hoax.”
Nicholas the mountain lion has a beautiful home waiting for him with his own pond, a rock den, a grassy area where he can run around and several other little hideaways where he can enjoy some privacy and naps.
But first the three-year-old puma will have to clear quarantine and become more comfortable with his new surroundings and new caretakers.
“He’s doing really well but he’s still very scared, he’s a very timid cat, so we’re just taking it really slow, day by day and the keepers are taking some quiet time with him,” said Bobbi Brink, the founder of San Diego County-based Lions, Tigers and Bears, Nicholas’ new home.
The golden-coated feline with an expressive face has had a tough journey to the 93-acre sanctuary that will be his permanent home.
In 2020 when he was just a cub, Nicholas was following his mother across a busy highway when both were struck by a car. Nicholas was badly injured and his mom was killed in the collision, an unfortunately common fate for members of their species as their longtime habitats are increasingly fragmented by new developments and highways.
Because they require about two years with their mothers to learn how to survive on their own, it’s almost impossible to release orphaned pumas back into the wild. Unlike, say, the orphaned orangutans of Borneo and Sumatra, who can usually be taught to successfully fend for themselves because humans can show them how to physically manipulate their surroundings, there’s no way to teach orphaned pumas how to select prey, stalk, pounce and deliver kill bites.
A sanctuary in northern California provided a home for Nicholas for about three years, but recently went bankrupt, so the staff at Lions, Tigers and Bears secured him, prepared a habitat for him and took on the Herculean task of transporting him to San Diego County.
Nicholas’ case is even more complicated because he has lasting neurological damage from the car crash that killed his mother, including a pronounced head tilt that worsens when he’s scared.
Brink told PITB it’s normal for cats like mountain lions to be spooked by the commotion and uncertainty of a move, as well as leaving everything they know behind. Nicholas is simply obeying his wild instincts, which urge him to be guarded. But he’s got a loving team of caretakers who will work with him, as well as veterinary specialists who are well versed in caring for animals with neurological damage.
“Sometimes it can take (animals like Nicholas) a month, sometimes it can take three months to build up that trust,” Brink said. “His biggest need is he’s very afraid, so we’re gonna have to work around his fear so we don’t scare him more.”
While Nicholas will have his own habitat and can keep to himself as much as he likes, recent observations of his secretive species have shown that pumas have “secret social lives,” and Nicholas will have the opportunity to meet and interact with other mountain lions if he’s comfortable with it.
Pumas — which are known by the scientific name puma concolor and are also called mountain lions, cougars, panthers, catamounts, screamers, painters, gato monte and many other names — are among the most adaptable felids in the world and range from the southernmost edge of South America to just over the Canadian border. They’re able to thrive in mountains, tropical regions, deserts, forests, human-adjacent rural areas and even in urban population centers, as the famed “Hollywood Mountain Lion” P-22 did for more than a decade in Los Angeles.
Their ability to adapt has served them well in a changing world, but they’re not immune to the pressures of human expansion.
In California their habitats have been carved up by the state’s busy and deadly highways, leaving the cats in genetically isolated pockets. Pumas who strike out in search of their own ranges are extremely vulnerable to vehicle traffic. P-22 famously crossed several of the world’s busiest highways to reach his eventual home in LA’s Griffith Park, but others like Nicholas and his mom aren’t so lucky.
Solutions like the $90 million Wallis Annenberg Wildlife Crossing, currently under construction in Los Angeles County, can connect fragmented ranges and give pumas, coyotes, foxes, deer, rabbits and other animals safe passage. But experts point out that they are just one component in a long-term solution that must include more careful zoning, fences to funnel animals toward safe crossings, and options like tunnels that run under highways, since not all animals will use overpasses.
As planners and wildlife experts figure out new ways to ensure the survival of wildlife in an increasingly crowded, human-dominated world, sanctuaries like Lions, Tigers and Bears play a crucial role by caring for the innocent animals who are injured, displaced and rescued from bad circumstances.
To learn more about Lions, Tigers and Bears or support their ongoing efforts to provide safe, stimulating and comfortable homes for wild animals, visit the non-profit’s site. To receive updates on Nicholas and the other animals at the sanctuary, follow Lions, Tigers and Bears on Instagram and Facebook. Readers who live in the California area can book guided educational tours or visit during one of the sanctuary’s special events. Thanks to Bobbi Brink and Olivia Stafford for allowing PITB to tell Nicholas’ story. All images and videos of Nicholas courtesy of Lions, Tigers and Bears.
When police went to a Yorktown, NY, home for a welfare check this week, the last thing they expected was to find an army of cats.
The responding officers breached the home when no one answered, finding an elderly couple deceased inside, along with some 150 hungry, neglected cats. Police don’t believe there was foul play in the death of the couple, but the number of cats and the condition of the home have “hindered” their investigation.
The Westchester County SPCA is taking on the monumental task of collecting the cats, giving each of them veterinary care and finding homes for them. Staff there are calling it the largest single rescue in their history, and they’d already filled their own facilities and local shelters to capacity by the time they’d rescued 100 of the famished felines, leaving them scrambling for room to place the others. Some have upper respiratory, eye and skin infections, the SPCA said, while most of the cats were malnourished and dehydrated.
Credit: SPCA of Westchester County
Credit: SPCA of Westchester
Despite living in conditions police described as “filth and squalor,” the cats are well-socialized and friendly, rescuers say. They believe the husband and wife may have been Abyssinian breeders at some point.
“It’s very unusual in a case like this, especially with that number of cats, for them to be as social and sweet as they are, usually they are scared when they come from a situation like this because they haven’t had a lot of human interaction,” the SPCA of Westchester’s Lisa Bonnano told the New York Post.
Yorktown is about 28 miles north of Casa Buddy, and we can vouch for the excellent work done by the Westchester County SPCA, whose veterinarians gave kitten Buddy his first shots and gave him the snip.
Veterinary costs alone are expected to exceed $40,000, so if you’d like to help, you can make a donation here.
Alleged Dallas Zoo thief nabbed
When 24-year-old Davion Irvin stopped an employee at the Dallas World Aquarium to ask about exotic animals there, the staffer recognized him as the same man pictured in a surveillance still from the Dallas Zoo.
Police released the image to the public after three separate enclosures at the zoo were breached, leading to the brief disappearance of a spotted leopard on Jan. 13 and the theft of two emperor tamarin monkeys about two weeks later. The langur monkey exhibit was also breached, but the animals were not removed.
After the aquarium’s staff tipped them off, cops caught up to Irvin a few miles away and have since linked him to all three break-ins. They charged him with two counts of burglary — for the monkeys and the leopard — and six counts of animal cruelty. They’re also looking into whether Irvin may have been involved with the “very suspicious” death of an endangered lappet-faced vulture on Jan. 21.
Cops, who initially suspected the thief was looking for exotic animals to breed or sell, have said Irvin hasn’t told them why he wanted the primates and the medium size cats. Their investigation is ongoing.
Thousands say goodbye to P-22
More than six thousand people crowded into The Greek Theatre in Los Angeles on Saturday to say goodbye to P-22, the Hollywood Lion, a puma who made the hills above the city his home for more than a decade.
People spoke about seeing his curious face pop up on their doorball cameras, spotting him disappearing into the trees in Griffith Park, and how his presence piqued the curiosity of many people who took the time to learn more about mountain lions.
But the unofficial theme of the event was how P-22 showed people humans and wildlife can co-exist, and how our species can do a lot more to make sure the animals we share the Earth with will survive in the future. One woman told LAist that before she learned about P-22, she “used to think they were scary” and aggressive like the big cats they’re often confused with.
Others said he inspired them to get directly involved with conservation efforts.
“We are wildlife. We are creatures of nature, just as all the animals and plants are,” archaeologist Desireé Martinez, a member of the indigenous Gabrielino-Tongva tribe, told KTLA. “What can we do to make sure that the creatures that we are sharing this nature with have the ability to survive and live on — just like us?”
P-22’s unforgettable visage, already familiar to Los Angelinos, is now ubiquitous in his former range, with several murals adorning the sides of buildings and other displays bearing his image.
“He inspired so much happiness. I mean, look at all the people that are here,” Babetta Gonzalez told LAist. “We have to remember that we are in their neighborhood and we need to respect their environment. We have integrated, but we could do a lot better.”
You don’t often hear about public memorials for cats, let alone thousands of people participating in them, but the fact that tickets were gone for P-22’s “Celebration of Life” within three hours speaks to the special place the mountain lion had in the hearts of Californians.
The famous puma, who was euthanized in December after he was suffering from an infection and was hit by a car, called Los Angeles’ Griffith Park home, and that’s where the celebration will be held at noon Pacific (3 pm Eastern) on Feb. 4. It’ll be held at The Greek, the outdoor amphitheater more commonly associated with rock stars, although one could argue P-22 was a rock star in his own right.
P-22 was the subject of books, movies and music festivals during his 12-year life, and his face adorned t-shirts, murals and street signs asking people to be careful while driving around the Griffith Park area, where the big guy ranged. He was the most famous mountain lion in an ongoing study of his species, and was easily identified by the radio collar around his neck.
P-22’s “origin story” was equally fascinating. Born in southern California in 2010 or 2011, the fearless puma migrated north, crossing several of the busiest and most dangerous highways in the world before he settled in Los Angeles. His nine-mile home range was the smallest ever recorded for a member of his species.
Bookmark this link or this alternate to livestream the event, which is set to include music, performances and remembrances from Los Angelinos and celebrities who loved the “Hollywood Lion.”
Separately, there’s an effort to honor the late puma with postage stamps featuring his famously derpy visage.
Top image credit Miguel Ordeñana/Natural History Museum. Bottom image credit Steve Winter.
The 295-lb former NFL lineman recently got a license to kill mountain lions, so when he heard about a puma that was “terrorizing” a Colorado community by existing near it, he packed his weapons of war, rounded up his hounds and set off, trailing testosterone like a beefed up Jim Corbett gone to deliver justice to the Champawat tiger.
First he spoke to a local homeowner, who had an ominous warning for him.
“And when we had talked to the landowner, they said, ‘Hey, we have house cats. And the cats are acting weird.’
No doubt the cats were agitated and wanted to get out there to cause havoc with their feline brother by existing and eating stuff. The cats would have to be dealt with later.
Arriving at the scene, Wolfe (what a badass name) found the remains of a recently-killed deer and knew the evil mountain lion hadn’t reformed its ways. By continuing to exist despite the discomfort of people in the area, and continuing to eat, the defiant cougar was practically asking to be hunted down and killed.
Moving downwind of the fearsome predator so that it wouldn’t smell the pheromonal cloud of machismo that permanently surrounds him, Wolfe began climbing. The ascent was exhausting — not only is the 6’5″ Wolfe almost 300 pounds, but he was also carrying his sword, his health elixirs and his Bow of Righteous Smiting, a 1,000-DPS legendary weapon he obtained after slaying the Goblin King of Dreadmoore. Wolfe was carrying more than 400 pounds up the slope when he caught sight of the puma and did what men of testicular fortitude do: he released the hounds, who cornered the cat and chased it up a tree.
Then, with righteous fury, Wolfe drew his bow and killed — excuse me, “harvested” — the mountain lion, whose species is notoriously averse to conflict with humans and has killed fewer people in a century than dogs do in a week. But what are a few inconvenient facts between friends, amirite?
When Wolfe descended the treacherous slope with the corpse of the mighty cat like Geralt of Rivia toting the trophy from a monster hunt, the villagers applauded and sang songs of his bravery, then feasted in his honor.
But all was not well, for when Wolfe posted the manly photos of himself posing manfully with the corpse of the big not-quite-big cat, a contingent of insignificant peons criticized him on Instagram for killing an animal that was allegedly “just surviving.”
So Wolfe did what men of his stature do, and went on Tucker Carlson’s show to cry about the rodential men and women nipping at his heels.
It is said that the combined testosterone of Wolfe and Carlson created a vortex of badassery that threatened to spark untameable hair and muscle growth in anyone who ventured too close. Female assistants had to be ushered out of the studio before the segment began, and the lesser men manning the cameras had to sign waivers absolving Wolfe and Carlson of blame if they were transformed into hulking man-beasts by the combined presence of the former lineman and the scion of a TV dinner empire.
“I’ve been through some tough training camps, brother, but this hunt was – man – it beat me up bad. I was beat up bad. I’m all cut up and scraped up. I was in full-body cramps [and] barely made it up there,” Wolfe told Carlson.
Wolfe proceeded to regale Carlson with tales of how dangerous mountain lions are. Puma concolor, the scientific name for the species, is responsible for a whopping 27 deaths in the last century. That’s one person every four years, and most of those people triggered the confrontations by getting too close to puma cubs or cornering the animals. By comparison, dogs kill 25,000 people a year via attacks, and another 25,000 by spreading disease, the latter mostly in third-world countries. Cows killed 655 Americans over a nine-year period from 1999 to 2007. More than 40,000 Americans are killed in car crashes annually.
In other words, pumas rank extremely low on the list of potential dangers to people, despite their size and their superficial resemblance to much more dangerous African lions. Pumas/mountain lions, also known as catamounts and cougars, actively avoid humans and try to steer clear of conflict with people. When they kill a deer or even a pet, it’s not because they’re “terrorizing” communities — it’s because they’re obligate carnivores who need to eat meat to survive.
Wolfe explained that it’s important to “tree” mountain lions in order to do recon on them and make sure they’re appropriately big and impressive-looking.
“Those full-grown males will kill kittens as well, they’ll kill kittens to get the females to go back into heat,” Wolfe said, confusing terms and the dominance behavior of African lions with American pumas, which are not the same species. “It’s important to manage that herd, right? You have to manage every population of animal out here, especially mountain lions. So we got the dogs on ’em.”
Who knew cats were herd animals? Who knew pumas had decided to give up their solitary lifestyles and live in prides? Who knew former NFL linebackers arbitrarily killing random pumas qualifies as ‘managing a population’? Someone call the wildlife biologists so they can rewrite their field guides!
Despite his ability to scale mountains and slay (mountain) lions, Wolfe was wounded by the backlash when he posted photos of himself with his “harvest.”
“I can’t believe what’s happening to me…They’ve had 200 calls to Colorado Parks and Wildlife trying to turn me in like I did something wrong,” Wolfe complained. “I’ve been harassed.”
Disclaimer: Since this is the internet, and this post is bound to bring in readers unfamiliar with PITB and the fact that we’re sarcastic jerks, allow us to state for the record that Wolfe did not kill the Goblin King of Dreadmoore, does not own the legendary Bow of Righteous Smiting, and we’re not exactly sure if the villagers in the unidentified rural Colorado community threw a feast in Wolfe’s honor after he returned with the corpse of the cat that had been “terrorizing” their community. I mean, they probably feasted him, but we haven’t confirmed it.
Feline humor, news and stories about the ongoing adventures of Buddy the Cat.