A pet leopard escaped and hunted sheep as it ran free for a week in Cornish countryside, it emerged yesterday as the animal’s killing spree only ended by a farmer and his fox traps.
The clouded leopard, usually found in the Himalayan foothills, was snared after killing some of the farmer’s sheep.
Officers attended and said the big cat had escaped from a nearby enclosure and the owner was trying to find it.
Neighbours claimed it belonged to local Todd Dalton, who famously won a legal battle to keep leopards in his London garden 12 years ago.
It escaped on Boxing Day from a private property in Great Treverran, Cornwall, and was found on a farm a mile away in Milltown on December 31, a farmer said.
A neighbour said yesterday: “I’ve got three children that were playing outside on Boxing Day and if I had known I would have kept them inside.
“No one was hurt, but if the leopard had come in our direction it could have been a different situation.
“We are settled here, this is our forever home, but now I am scared for my children and don’t feel safe with my back door open.
“They had an expert come in to track down the leopard and they said it would not travel and it would return to its mate, but it did the exact opposite.
“It was found in a field where children were playing and was caught by a farmer in a fox trap.
“A leopard wouldn’t go for an adult, but a toddler I’m not sure.
“There’s an issue with the police that we were not informed, but it’s not their bag is it? It’s not everyday they get a leopard on the loose.”
They added they wanted the animal’s keeper to lose their license from Cornwall Council, who said the owner had an appropriate dangerous wild animal license.
Peter Howard, 71, a public garden manager who lives around 50 yards from the leopard enclosure, also called on the council to take action.
He said: “I know they had leopards over there because a neighbour had seen them.
“My understanding is the leopard had been sleeping in a barn a mile away and was found a week later.
“In the meantime it had carried out attacks on sheep. The licence should be revoked. The enclosures have proven to be unsafe.”
Devon and Cornwall Police confirmed that a clouded leopard had escaped after its enclosure was damaged by wet weather, and said they had reports of dead sheep.
A spokeswoman for Cornwall Council added: “The owner of the animal that escaped does have the appropriate dangerous wild animal licence.
“A full audit of the premises and licence has been undertaken and the circumstances surrounding the escape fully investigated.
“The incident occurred due to an unforeseeable severe weather event causing a flood in an area not known to be subject to flooding.
“The owner has taken appropriate measures to prevent possible future flooding events from affecting the security of the site.”
Mr Dalton was approached for comment but denied owning a private zoo, refused to admit that the leopard belonged to him, and refused to comment on the story.
He said: “I’m not willing to discuss the matter.”
The clouded leopard is listed as vulnerable on the International Union for Conservation of Nature Red List.
There are thought to be fewer than 10,000 mature clouded leopards in the world.
They can weigh up to 23kg and grow up to 108 cm long, from nose to tail.
Article Source : http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2018/01/14/pet-leopard-escaped-hunted-sheep-ran-free-week-cornish-countryside/