Sightings of a mysterious gigantic cat, about 4 times the size of a domestic tabby, have been reported during the past 10 years in south Herfordshire near north London. The animal was nicknamed the Beast of Barnet.

The mystery was solved when a lynx was spotted sitting on a suburban garden fence. It was captured during a dramatic operation involving armed police, vets, zookeepers and the RSPCA.

The animal was stalked through back gardens and streets for 6 hours, until it was captured. After being shot with a tranquilizer dart, it jumped over a 6 foot fence and escaped across public tennis courts.

Carol Montague, who spotted the creature, says, ?I thought it was a leopard or something. It was the size of a [small dog] with mottled beige and gray fur with what looked like little black feathers on the top of its ears and very soft looking baby fur on its belly. I called the police immediately. I don?t think they believed me at first because they just laughed.?

The London Zoo sent Tom Sainsbury, the head keeper from its lions section, who finally managed to shoot the dart than sedated the big cat. He confirmed that the animal was a lynx and says, ?It is a young adult and fully grown. It seems fine apart from being a little thin with a slight lameness in its hind leg.?

The RSPCA is investigating how a lynx came to live in a London suburb. A spokesman says, ?A lynx is classified as a dangerous wild animal and to keep one you would need a dangerous wild animal license?We believe someone was keeping this animal illegally and it escaped.?

Meanwhile, in Australia, an elusive black cat-like creature that has baffled the residents of the Blue Mountains area for decades has finally been captured on video tape.

An exotic animals expert has been called in to view the amateur footage that was taken by Wayne and Gail Pound from their home. Mrs. Pound said she saw a cat playing with a huge black panther in her backyard.

The mystery of the black panther has puzzled authorities and residents of the area for almost 30 years. There have been more than 40 sightings of the animal since the late 1970s, with the most recent one in May 1999. Department of Agriculture spokesman Col Begg says, ?We have been investigating reports of sightings of alleged big cats in the area for nearly three years now. We?ve set up infra-red cameras, we?ve tried to trap the alleged animals in the area, without success. We?ve taken paw prints and we?ve also taken feces and hair samples, all of which proved negative for a big cat.?

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