Press Release – 14 February 2012

There has recently been a lot of excitement about a big cat that has apparently been attacking deer and wallabies in the environs of Stroud in Gloucestershire.

Curiosity has been sparked, and despite the lack of evidence linking any unusual beast or large cat to three roe deer and three wallabies found dead on Gloucestershire farmland, it has been reported the local community is not convinced that the deaths were not the results of a large, hungry, wild cat.

The CCRI Rural research experts, the Countryside and Community Research Institute (CCRI), based at the University of Gloucestershire, are is determined to find out more about this rural phenomena and are undertaking a survey to determine the beliefs of people in the local community and beyond with regard to creatures such as the Gloucestershire cat.

Indeed, the search for creatures that may or may not exist is not a new phenomena, and there is in fact a word – Crypto-zoology – that refers to animals whose existence lacks physical evidence but which may appear in myths, legends, or are seen outside their normal geographic ranges. For example, people have been searching for the Loch Ness Monster since it was first ‘seen’ in 1933, and large footprints found in the snows of the Himalayas are thought to be that of the Abominable Snowman. But, despite a lack of definitive physical evidence that these are real creatures, numerous people still believe in their existence.

Senior Research Fellow at the CCRI, Dr Matt Reed, said, “As a team of researchers who work a lot in rural communities over the years we have heard lots of accounts of big beasts spotted in the countryside, carcasses of wild animals or sheep killed in unusual ways and sometimes strange animal calls. Now it seems that these accounts have become focused near our base and we have decided to take a closer look“

Rhiannon Fisher, a lecturer at the Royal Agricultural College and a part-time PhD student in the CCRI, added, “ We are not saying that there is or is not a wild cat in the area, we are interested in people’s opinions about what might be out there, what sort of thing might count as proof, and what their thoughts are about it. We have prepared a simple, short questionnaire that people can complete on-line, and once we have the results we’ll publish them on the CCRI’s website. “

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