Alien Big Cats: The Beast of Bodmin Moor and the Beast of Buchan
Throughout the world, there is a phenomenon known as Alien Big Cats, or ABCs. In the United Kingdom, sightings of ABCs are particularly prominent. In this article, I'll be covering two of the more well known ABCs in the UK, the Beast of Bodmin Moor and the Beast of Buchan.
The Beast of Bodmin Moor
The Beast of Bodmin Moor is a phantom wild cat that is purported to live in the area of Cornwall, England, though it has been spotted around Kent and even as far as some areas of Scotland. Around 1978, Bodmin Moor became the center of sightings. Also during this time, the Beast would be blamed for the occasional mutilated livestock found in the area. Between 1983 and 1996, 60 sightings were reported, and numerous livestock continued to turn up slaughtered.
The description of the Beast of Bodmin Moor has been pieced together from the reported 60 sightings. According to these sightings, the Beast is three to five feet long, and has white-yellow eyes. It is known to make a variety of noises, including hisses, growls, and sometimes even sounds that are similar to a woman screaming, or a "terrifying scream that sounds unusually human." Other than these specific descriptors, the Beast is known to be a large black cat-like creature.
Scientists have disputed that Bodmin Moor could be the home to a panther-like cat such as the Beast of Bodmin Moor for multiple reasons. First, in order to have a breeding population, the number of animals would need to be high. Second, the climate in Bodmin Moor isn't right for the kind of wild cat the Beast is assumed to be. And finally, there is no appropriate food supply in the area.
For those that believe in the existence of the Beast of Bodmin Moor, theories abound, both of the earthly variety and the paranormal. A common theory is that most or all ABC sightings throughout the UK, including those of the Beast of Bodmin Moor, were animals that were formerly part of imported private collections, and had either escaped or been released. These missing animals would not have been reported because importing them was not legal in the first place.
A more specific theory points to Mary Chipperfield as the cause for the sightings. When she closed her zoo in 1978, she supposedly released three pumas into the wild. Author Benjamin Mee (of We Bought a Zoo fame) subscribes to this idea as well. However, Mee believes that the remaining population descended from the original three pumas have since died. According to him, "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."
Mee also believes that rumors of the Beast which resurfaced in the summer of 2016 were caused by his Dartmoor Zoo. During this time, the zoo was missing Flaviu, a lynx that had managed to escape. Flaviu was recaptured a few weeks later, but possibly was spotted and misinterpreted as the Beast of Bodmin Moor during his time roaming free.
Another theory simply states that a species of wild cat believed to have gone extinct is in fact still alive in the region. The most bizarre explanation is that the Beast is somehow supernatural, possibly owing to the sounds it is reported as making.
In 1995, the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food conducted an investigation into all the reported sightings. The investigation concluded that there was no evidence of big or exotic cats living in Bodmin Moor.
Since the initial sightings in the late 1970s, many photographs and films have been taken which supposedly show the Beast, as well as some physical evidence. One such piece of physical evidence was a skull, which has since been discredited. General opinion is that this skull was planted as part of a deliberate hoax, possibly not specifically to show the existence of the Beast of Bodmin Moor, but to show evidence of ABCs in general.
In 1997, puma prints were found in the Bodmin Moor area, which suggests that a large cat was in fact active in the region at one time. The prints were investigated by officials from a local zoo. And one of the most notable pieces of evidence was found in 2012, when a local man and his wife discovered a corpse that was believed to possibly be a Beast specimen.
Whatever the truth is, the Beast of Bodmin Moor has certainly left an impact on its native region. It has been nicknamed "Bod," and, according to an article in The Line Up, "The legend took off and locals turned the Beast of Bodmin Moor into their very own supernatural citizen." Over the years, Bod has appeared in parades, festivals, and had countless articles and books written about it.
The Beast of Buchan
The Beast of Buchan is an ABC that has been reportedly sighted in the Buchan area of Aberdeenshire in Scotland, though reports have stretched to other areas of Scotland and even to the border with England. Reports supposedly date back to the 1930s, though the Beast has also been associated with earlier sightings of ABCs throughout the UK. It has been described as many ABCs have been, as a large black cat.
So what are the theories this time? Well, much like the Beast of Bodmin Moor, sightings are generally attributed to the release of exotic pets into the wild. In particular, many have pointed to the passage of the Dangerous Wild Animals Act in 1976 as being the impetus for a mass release of exotic pets by owners who could not adhere to the guidelines of the act to legally keep their animals.
George Redpath, a member of a group called the Scottish Big Cat Trust, subscribes to this theory. Redpath believes that the offspring of the pets that were released are responsible for sightings of the Beast. When asked, he stated that he didn't want to speculate too much, but that he guessed that as many as 50 big cats of this kind might be living across the country.
Bizarrely, some have also pointed the finger at USAAF soldiers who were stationed in Scotland after World War II. Though no evidence has been found to corroborate it, some have claimed that the soldiers kept a puma - or perhaps even multiple pumas - as a mascot. When they left Scotland, the soldiers released the puma into the wild.
Though there have been many, many sightings, there is only one notable report of an attack by the Beast. In 2002, a woman named Doris Moore who lived near Insch claimed she was attacked by the Beast while she was leaving a stable. A friend of hers who witnessed the attack described it as cat-like, the size of a Labrador, and "a sleek black beastie."
Some folklorists have speculated that reported sightings of the Beast of Buchan might have been inspired by the tales of the Cù-Sìth, or the demon hound, the black dogs of death in local folklore. It's also possibly related to tales of the Catsìth, a feline equivalent.
The Catsìth may have been inspired by the Kellas cat, a domestic cat/wildcat hybrid that has occasionally been found in the Buchan area. However, the Kellas cat is not likely to be the culprit behind all Beast sightings. Kellas cats do not grow nearly as large as the Beast is purported to be, and Doris Moore also insists that the creature that attacked her in 2002 was not a Kellas cat.
Folklorist Michael Goss has attributed the Beast of Buchan to mostly being a contemporary legend, despite conceding that some sightings might have been authentic. Goss's assertion is likely correct, especially given that big cat sightings are a part of Scottish folklore going back to at least the 1930s, when reports of the Beast first began.
As ludicrous as it might sound, fears about the Beast of Buchan were taken seriously enough by some that in 1997, Scottish politician Alex Salmond raised his concerns in the House of Commons. He believed that the Beast of Buchan was a potential danger to livestock, showing that the sightings were taken at least somewhat serious. In 2002, Richard Lochhead, another politician, asked for a formal inquiry into reports of the Beast.
So should reports of the Beast of Bodmin Moor and the Beast of Buchan be taken seriously? They probably should be taken about as seriously as any other report of an ABC in the UK. That is to say, there's probably something out there, but as for what exactly, who's to say?