Big cat seen lurking at Oaklands College in St Albans

PUBLISHED: 15:00 28 January 2017

Two people reported seeing the big cat in St Albans district (file photo of puma)

Two people reported seeing the big cat in St Albans district (file photo of puma)

Archant

A large cat, possibly a puma, has been spotted in fields at a college campus in St Albans - the latest in several sightings in this area.

Another big cat has been spotted in St Albans district (File photo of puma)Another big cat has been spotted in St Albans district (File photo of puma)

Herts Police were called to Oaklands College, Hatfield Road, after two members of staff reported seeing a large cat at the Smallford campus.

The animal was described as a large sandy coloured cat with a long tail, and it was seen between 8-9pm on January 25.

Police checked CCTV at the institution, and have liaised with St Albans district council, which confirmed that there are no dangerous animals licenced in St Albans.

Oaklands College’s director of student experience, Sean Scully, said: “We are aware of a member of staff reporting a sighting of what they thought was a big cat at St Albans campus earlier this week.

“However, no further sightings have since been reported, and all livestock on campus has been accounted for as present and correct.”

The rural campus features a large animal section where students learn how to care for larger animals such as calves, pigs, goats and alpacas. There is also a working sheep farm there.

The report follows a string of similar sightings of panthers and pumas in and near St Albans:

• A Harpenden man spotted a big black cat while jogging along a quiet rural road near Luton Airport in October last year. He was ‘convinced’ it was a panther.

• Terry Moore, founder of the Cat Survival Trust which looks after wild cat species on a 12-acre site in Welwyn, told the Herts Advertiser: “A black leopard used to come over this way, up until two years ago. There have also been sightings of a puma in this area.”

• A recent Freedom of Information request by this paper to Herts Police revealed that close to 30 big cat sightings in and near St Albans district have been reported to the force over the past five years.

• If you do see a big cat in the wild, Herts Police recommends keeping a safe distance and phoning 101 to report it.

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