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The Puma Sightings

The elusive Surrey Puma has always been a controversial subject. It is possible it's out there, roaming the woodland and terrorising the locals, and there are plenty of people who say they have seen it....

We have tracked the big cat across Surrey and mapped all the sightings so far. If you have seen a big cat in the area, email us and let us know. 

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The Surrey Puma Timeline

1800's

1825 - 27th October.  William Cobbett, the famous Farnham farmer, writer, political commentator, sees a big grey cat, the size of a medium-sized spaniel, whilst visiting Waverley Abbey.

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1900's - 1959

1938 - 19th March. The Field magazine publishes a letter from Irene Roberts in Lightwater. She says in July, 1937, she was kept awake by strange noises that weren't made by any animal she recognises. She says it wasn't a fox. 

1955 - A lady walking her dog in Abinger Hammer, finds a mutilated dead calf. She claims she was shocked to see a puma-like animal slinking away from the scene.

Big cat

Are they really out there?

1959 - Police receive reports of a big cat around the Surrey/ Hants border. In August, one man, Mr A Burningham, describes "an enormous great cat" crossing a country lane, some 40 yards ahead of him, near Preston Candover. He says it is the "size of a Labrador dog", but moved in a more feline way. It has a rough coat and long tail.

1959 - A cabbie reports seeing a "lion" which jumps over a hedge into Twesledown Racecourse, Church Crookham.

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1960's

1961 - Golfers having a round of golf at Croham Hurst Golf Club, near East Croydon, spot a large black creature. One golfer goes to get a better look and reports that it is a bear, about 3 feet tall. It disappears into the woods as they watch it.

1962 - 16th July. 7.45am. Water board worker Ernest Jellett, reports seeing a large cat chasing a rabbit, near Heathy Park Reservoir on the North Downs. A police search reveals a patch of flattened grass which could have been a resting spot, for a large animal. He says it looks like a small lion.

1962 - December. A second water board employee says they too have spotted the cat.

1962 Winter - A "cat like beast" is spotted at Bushylease Farm, between Crondall and Ewshot.

1964 Summer - A calf is found dead, with marks similar to that made by a large cat attack, at the farm. A vet says he thinks the injuries have been caused by a non-native animal.

1964 -  27th September. 10:45pm. A large cat is seen by a motorist at Loxwood.

1964 -  28th September. 6.15pm. A woman spots a puma at Witley.

1964 - 29th September. 6.45am. A Puttenham road worker says he has come face to face with a puma.

1964 - October 3rd. More reports come in of sightings in Hascombe, Hindhead and Elstead.

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Big Cat in field

BIG CATS ON FILM

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1965 - A woman looking after her horses says a big cat leapt over her head, at Chiddingfold.

1964 to 1966 - Godalming Police receive 362 reports of big cat sightings. A pest officer sent to investigate, suggests the likelihood, from the descriptions given, is the cat is a puma. 

1966 - A retired police photographer takes a photo in a garden in Churt, which he says shows a puma. Officials at Chessington Zoo and the Natural History Museum agree with him, however London Zoo officials don't.

Cat in grass

Puma or puss?

1966 - July 14th. A big cat is spotted in fields near Ash Green. Three hours later, a puma is seen at Worplesdon, in a back garden.

1966 - August. A puma is sighted at Cutt Mill and again at Wormley a few days later in another garden.

1966 - 4th September.  A man says he saw a large cat "spring from a tree and speed off" in Milford. 

1966 - 22nd September. Two people report separate sightings of a puma on the Hogs Back. Later that evening a woman out walking her dog sees a puma on Stringers Common. 

1966 - September 7th. The local Hascombe bobby PC. Bill Cooper from Surrey Police is asked investigate paw prints at Stileman’s Racing Stables, in Munstead, between Hascombe and Godalming. The Police make a plaster cast of the prints. London Zoo officials identify the cast as a puma paw print. However the average puma paw is 3/4 inch smaller than the cast, which would mean the animal that made it would have been much bigger than any eyewitness has said.

1968 - A farmer claims to have shot a puma, but has no body to prove it.

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1970's

1970 - December. Large paw prints are found in the snow in a garden belonging to the Fraser family. They have the presence of mind to take a photo.

Size guide to big cats

1970 - Police Inspector Eric Bourn reports seeing a big cat which looks like a puma. He says it is ginger brown and the size of a Labrador. However, his colleague says it is black with two white spots on the left front leg!

1978 - May. Mrs Anne Stanette is riding in Granger’s Woods, Woldingham, and sees what she I believes is a lion rush across the road in front of her. "It ran from the Oxted side into thick bushes on the opposite side. It was about ten or twelve yards from me. It was a beige/light brown colour and had a small head in comparison with the rest of its body. It had no shaggy mane.”

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1980'S

1984 - Puma fur is allegedly found in Peaslake.

Late 1980's - Back in '87 or '88, early on a summer Sunday morning, Jan Gillies takes her dogs up to Bisley Green, on Church Lane. As she approaches the Green she looks around to see if there were any other dogs about and sees an animal the size of a labrador, but slimmer, jump up a bank and push through a garden hedge.

She told us she did not see its head, only the body but as it went through the hedge she saw the tail, which was not tapered like a dog's tail, but thick and curved just like a cat's tail. She told us "I had never heard of any other large cats being seen and when I told my family that I had seen a "panther" they laughed at me so much that I did not report it any further".

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1990'S

1995 - Steve Ashcroft, a policeman from Bookham, claims he saw a puma chasing a roe deer by St Teresa's school.

1998 - 6th January.  Jill Mussett, who lives in Cranleigh, spots a puma in the field behind her house. After watching it through binoculars from her bedroom window she says "I could see its lovely, sleek chocolate brown fur. It had gorgeous green eyes and pointed ears, with a long, sleek tail turned up at the end. It was about the size of a labrador but much sleeker. Its movements were certainly cat-like."

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2000

2000 - 4th August. 1.30pm. George and Barbara Quelsh see a "sandy coloured beast, twice the size of a domestic cat" on the Spectrum Leisure Centre running track in Guildford. Mrs Quelsh comments: "I said to my husband, look, there's a dog', but it wasn't. It lay on the green for a few minutes and then walked into the trees."
He adds: "It was twice the length of a domestic cat and had its tail curled up above the ground. It definitely wasn't a dog. It did not seem aggressive."

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2003

2003 - June. Mr Ashcroft claims to have a second sighting of a large, rabbit-coloured cat at Holmbury. 

2003 - Two Kingston police officers report seeing a large black beast which runs across the road in front of them.

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2004

2004 - April. Villagers in Abinger Common report more sightings of a huge cat.

2004 - The Wildlife Trust apparently have taken reports of sightings of a puma-like animal in Bisley, Whitmoor Common, Kemishford and Rickford Common.

Panther

Black cats are Panthers, not Pumas

2004 - Guildford resident, Pat Bird says a large cat has been sighted up at The Mount, around Henley Fort, just outside Guildford town centre. 

2004 - December 23rd. Mr and Mrs Cox, of Holford Road, report seeing a large black cat-like animal in Trodds Lane, Merrow, at 4pm.

2004 - Leatherhead resident, 60 year old Bruce Burgess claims to have photographed a large brown cat, which is possibly a puma. Mr Burgess is surveying sites for a lake, at Brook Willow Farm in Woodlands Road, when he sees the big cat. His photos are too blurry to see what it actually is. 

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2005

2005 - Whitmoor Common. Two dogs chase a large puma-coloured, cat-like animal up a tree. The fire brigade are called, but the animal escapes.

2005 - April 16th. A woman and her housemate spot a huge black cat in Ewell at the  the bottom of the garden. They say it is a black leopard.

2005 - Two weeks after the Whitmoor Common sighting. A man called Harry Fowler videos a big cat at Winkworth Arboretum. In his footage, a bystander is heard to start saying "It's huge! It's walking like a cat."

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2007

2007 - Jeffrey Howlett and his mother see what they say is a puma, in their carpark at Merrow. Jeffrey says "My mother spotted the black curley tail and moments later I saw the cat leap over a bush in to the under growth near by running along side a railway line. The scariest part was not the fact we had spotted it, it was we could not hear a sound even when it landed in the undergrowth of dry leaves and twigs! I contacted Surrey Police who later came out to verify what we had seen. I am now very weary about approaching my car late at night."

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2008

2008 - Office worker Rebecca Palmer thinks she sees a big cat on the Hants/Surrey border, as she is driving through East Tisted.

2008 - July. Camberley. Two members of Lesley Tanner's family see a black puma like cat on a housing estate. This was on separate nights at about 10 pm. Both times it was jumping across a road.

2008 -  Tuesday 26th August 2008 7.10am.  Howard Jackson sees a big cat in East Horsley Camping and Caravanning club site between the lake and the W. Boundary of the site, walking parallel to the feeder stream. He says it disappeared into the undergrowth and was sandy coloured, with black/grey blotches in places with a long, thick tail.  Roughly the height of a labrador, but longer, with rounder head and smaller ears. He doesn't tell the camp the site at the time, because "it was doing no harm - man is not its natural prey and feral cats keep well away from human contact if possible."

Puma

2008 - Wednesday 1st October. Peter Broadbent is in Browns Lane, Effingham at at approximately 8.45am, opposite the field where the youngsters play rugby on a sunday morning.  He sees a large, light coloured, cat type creature, about the size of a labrador.

It runs across the hedge line and into a gap in the hedge towards The Street. He says afterwards "I have always been very sceptical about all these sightings as I have worked on golf course throughout Surrey and never seen prints or any evidence of anything left behind by these so called big cats. Now my views have definitely changed as I am positive that what I saw that morning was something very unusual."

2008 - October. Adrian Hockey of Guildford says he is walking home at about 11pm where his road backs on to fields to the east of Guildford. He sees a sleek black animal run from one field, across a dirt road into another field. He says it could have been a deer but did not seem the right shape and was very light footed and very black. This is the first of  two sightings Adrian has but he does tell us he cannot be a 100% sure of either as they were both at night.

2008 - Mid-October. Grosvenor Road, Chobham.
Mike Gamaroff's 5 year old son comes running hysterically back to the house after playing at the end of their very large garden in Surrey.

Mike tells us "It's covered with trees and joined onto the neighbour's equally large garden, even more overgrown with trees and shrubs. The houses back onto a wide open field, and the whole area is rural and very leafy.

An otherwise brave boy, he was frightened and beside himself. He said he saw a large animal, darkened by the shadows, but no dog and definitely no cat. He described it as large as big dog but said it wasn't a dog and nobody on the street even has a dog. The creature did not attack, but was scared off by his alarmed screaming.

He is a clever boy, not prone to fantasy or an active imagination and he has never shown a reaction anything like this. There was definitely something which he described in fairly good detail, and now he doesn't like to go to the end of the garden unless accompanied. Once several months back, he came inside claiming he had seen a turtle in the garden. That was shrugged off as being his imagination, but some days afterward there was sign on our street with an appeal for a tortoise that had gone missing in the area."

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2009

2009 - January 1st. Sarah Ramsay is startled at something making her front door rattle. She pulls back the door curtain and sees a large cat running down the door. It runs up the garden and under some bushes. The door glass is dimpled so is hard to make out. But to Sarah it looks like a very large gray cat with a very long tail.

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LATEST SIGHTING!

2009 - Saturday January 10th, Guildford. Adrian Hockey is running in the fields, at dusk and sees a black animal sitting upright. It is approximately 1 meter high, on a dirt track next to the field.  He thinks it is too big to be a fox, and there are lots of rabbits living in that area,  so it may have been stalking them.

This is the second of two sightings Adrian has but he does tell us he cannot be a 100% sure of either as they were both at night.

We have tracked the big cat across Surrey and mapped all the sightings so far. If you have seen a big cat in the area, email us and let us know. 

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AND THEY LIVED TO TELL THE TALE!

Not every puma story is heresay. Some people have their own furry tail to tell.....

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THEY ARE OUT THERE SOMEWHERE

If you believe the press, big cats are stalking the countryside wherever you live!

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PUMA FACTS

Want to know what to do if you come face to face with one? How big are they? What do they look like? Everything you need to know about Pumas, and more besides.

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PUMAS ON THE INTERNET

More stuff on the big cats from the wonderful world wide web.

last updated: 28/07/2009 at 14:01
created: 29/04/2008

Have Your Say

Have you seen the Surrey Puma? Do you believe it exists? Let us know what you think about the rumours. Could a big cat survive in the wilds of Surrey?

The BBC reserves the right to edit comments submitted.

F.W
OK this will sound bizarre but about 7 years ago a big group of my friends and i camped in ash woods, When we started to fall asleep suddenly there was the most bloodcurdling scream any of us have ever heard - the scream seemed to come from the bottom of a big hill we were at the top of, seconds later the same scream and really loud footsteps came running through our camp and then we could hear it running off into the woods at a really fast pace. None of us had a clue what the sound was but it could not have been human, it was simply travelling way too fast and it sounded like an animal with four large legs. We also know it could not have been a fox (as many we have told the story assume) because we could hear it running miles away and the scream it produced was nothing i have ever heard a fox make.. its hard to explain how it sounded but it was brutal, and sounded very very angry. To this day when we get together this story ends up being talked about because we are sure whatever ran through our camp was nothing we have ever heard before, the best description it was ever given was like the worlds angriest man screaming from on top of a horse. Nobody saw what it was that made the sound and we scarpered out of the woods straight away. I would love to hear any explinations for this as it baffles us to this day.. do pumas scream?

Sharon Rimmer
I saw a large cat type animal cross the road in front of me on my way to work on the A327 between Arborfield and Eversley at 7.02am on Wednesday 10th June 2009. It walked like a cat, it had a long body and long tail which curled slightly at the end and it had a cat shaped head. The area it was in had thick cover at the roadside and had fields beyond that. It was too far in front of me that I couldn't see the colour of it. It was, however, a large wild cat. Thank you. Sharon Rimmer.

UR
Fair point Kt W but an animals instincts dont die out through breeding, look at demestic cats they are still able to hunt very efficiently and they have been captive for centuries. so i believe a large cat would have no truble surviving. there is plenty of food sources. and theres been that many sightings they cant be all wrong

Josh
I definitly believe that a big cat could live in the wilds of Surrey. I believe to be either a puma or a leopard.

Kt W
Ha ha that's funny. Not only if they have escaped from captivity they would have little chance of survival due to the fact they would have no idea how to actually hunt, as it is illegal to give live feed to animals that live in captivity. Also, Modern day zoos have such tight regulations about the keeping of enclosures (Locking up and all) the chance of escape is very slim. Annonymous - Not very likely - The mother would have protected her cubs no matter what, it's part of their instincts.

Joy Martin
My sighting was in the early 1990s. I was driving, with my mother next to me, along a quiet lane leading towards Holmbury St Marys, coming from Leith Hill. Up ahead we could see a large black cat lying in the centre of the road. At our approach it stood up and took a couple of steps and sprang up the bank in one bound, on our nearside. I marked the place and stopped where I thought it had gone. A large black panther type cat was looking down at us from the top of the bank, then it backed away and disappeared into the bushes. I reported it at the time to the local newspaper, the Dorking Advertiser, and they said there had been other sightings of a large black cat in the same area.

david fowler & cara smith (in love)
we were in puttenham on sunday 11/01/2009 at 3pm stroking 2 horses by the side of the road and at the back of the field we saw a large black puma it was slinking along like a cat,we got a good look at it for about 10-20 seconds we think it was a young puma because it was a bit small but larger than a fox and jet black

annonymous
I know that this big cat exsists because i have spent time with her and her cubs. i will never admit to its exsistance because the cruelty of the human race would erase this beutiful species. it is not a puma its more a high bred crossed between a puma and another big cat.

danielle standing
I live up north and we went to the seaside but we took the bus as i dont drive and my god daughter pointed towards the hills on the right and at least 12 people on the bus saw it a dark coloured large cat it was huge walking up the hills towards the trees but i mean it was nothing else not a horse nor cow nor dog the size comparison didnt match at all some people even took pictures on thier phones and it was in the local gazette the next day but nothing else has been spotted around those hills but you never know

Aven King
I live in Hastings east sussex, 3 weeks ago my friend in a village outside of hastings(guestling) encounterd a large cat,late at night, he was asleep in a portacabin, when he heard screaming, he went outside and used a torch and saw nothing, then an hour later another scream, he went outside with a torch, an it also awoke people up in the house next to the portacabin, under the cabin was the torn remains of a badger, no fox or dog kills badgers does it, plus the owner of the land found a lambs carcass and a badgers carcass up a tree(seperate occasions) Anyone else had any similar expereince??

Gail Tomsett
Travelling West along the A272 just before Cowfold in 2005 I saw a large black cat walking along the edge of a field in the distance. It was a long way off and too big for a domestic cat. It had a long thick tail and moved cat like. A few years earlier I had also seen large cat like foot prints at one of the lakes just south of the A272 at Bolney.

Lucy Grenside
When I was a child I saw this puma in the undergrowth where i used to play.It terrified me and I ran home.No one believed me, so I gave it no further thought, but now I can confidently admit it. I saw it, it was big, it was scary.Haslemere

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