Beast of Bodmin Moor: Has the mystery finally been solved?

Zoo owner claims he knows the secret behind the sightings of the 'big cat'

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Beast of Bodmin Moor mystery finally solved?

A zoo owner may have finally come up with an explanation for the mystery behind the Beast of Bodmin Moor.

There have been numerous sightings of a 'Big Cat' roaming around the moors of Devon and Cornwall over the years.

See also: Britain unexplained: Terrifying unsolved mysteries from around the country

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While most people have dismissed the rumours as myth, a zoo owner has now come forward to say that it was true.

Benjamin Mee said that three pumas were released into the wild from Dartmoor Zoo, which is currently on the hunt for an escaped lynx called Flaviu.

He said they went on to live in the surrounding land, attacking livestock and infuriating farmers.

He has no direct evidence, but says he heard from many sources that pumas were released from the zoo under its previous ownership.

It's believed famous circus owner Mary Chipperfield released the pumas when her zoo was forced to close in 1978, reports the Telegraph.

It's thought Mary was driving five pumas to a new home but, rather than seeing them live somewhere else, she released a breeding pair and another male into the wild, and only two pumas arrived at the new destination.

Benjamin, whose book We Bought A Zoo was turned into a movie starring Matt Damon and Scarlett Johansson, said he himself saw one, and he knows what they look like.

According to The Times, Mr Mee said: "Puma were released in the Sparkwell area in the 1980s and there were many sightings of puma in this area up until 2010.

"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.

"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 Metro reports that he added: "I think two whole generations of pumas managed to live on the moor until the winter of 2010.

"When the weather got so cold, they all died."

One man, Herman Welch, 75, from Portsmouth, said he saw a 'black panther' near the zoo in 2004. He said he was driving to Sparkwell when one jumped out in front of his car.

He said: "I got to the golf course and I said 'I've just seen a bloody panther jump in front of me' and my friends just laughed and said 'Herman, don't be daft.'"

Maybe it wasn't so daft after all...

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