- The Washington Times - Thursday, November 16, 2023

Residents are stumped by video of a large dark cat climbing rocks in the Phoenix Mountain Preserve. Wildlife officials said it was not one of Arizona’s native big cat species.

The video, uploaded to YouTube on Nov. 9 by user Jen Fletcher, shows the cat moving and starkly displayed against the preserve’s red rocks.

“It’s not one of our native big cat species, mountain lion, bobcat, ocelot or jaguar. It’s pretty big for a house cat,” Arizona Game and Fish Department spokesman Tom Cadden told The Arizona Republic Wednesday.

One theory posits that it could be an escaped exotic cat.

“My guess is that it’s probably something that was bought at a wildlife auction. Could be from Africa or South America. It’s nothing I’m familiar with, but it’s not a house cat,” AGFD Assistant Director Jim DeVos told KPNX, a local NBC affiliate.

The department is investigating the cat’s origins but has not had any other reports of it being heard or sighted. Unless the cat causes problems for people, the department probably won’t hunt it down.

• Brad Matthews can be reached at bmatthews@washingtontimes.com.

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