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Video proves existence of rare big cat living in the suburbs

Grainy footage has emerged showing a big cat wandering through the streets of a suburban North American town.

Reported sightings of such creatures are the stuff of urban legends in Australia where they are not endemic, but seeing one in Canada’s westernmost territory, Yukon, is not uncommon.

But there was something about this animal that made the sighting special, and a scientific paper was published in the journal Mammalia about its discovery in October.

A black Canadian lynx was filmed walking in a residential area near the town of Whitehorse. Source: Thomas S. Jung / Mammalia
A black Canadian lynx was filmed walking in a residential area near the town of Whitehorse. Source: Thomas S. Jung / Mammalia

As the short 30-second video begins, a loud dog can be heard barking nearby after being startled by the lynx which seems unafraid.

What’s immediately clear is that the lynx is not brown, gold, or even beige-white. It’s black.

Black lynx sighting confirmed by experts

Filmed from a distance of 50 metres on a summer day two years ago, it was the first time a rare black-coloured lynx had ever been captured on film.

Behind the camera was University of Alberta’s Thomas Jung. He was so surprised by the discovery, which is likely the first documented case of melanism in the species, he passed the vision onto several experts to confirm it was indeed a Canada lynx.

“It had a black coat containing whitish, grey guard hairs throughout, as well as whitish-grey hairs in the facial ruff and the rostrum and dorsal regions,” he said.

Mr Jung believes the colour mutation may give the animal a distinct disadvantage when hunting in the winter snow, but he is yet to confirm whether it is a maladaptive change.

New big cat sighting in Australian town

Last Saturday, a Western Australia couple shared video of a large “big cat” on a CCTV camera.

Despite the feral cats often growing to a massive size, the pair believe the animal walking through scrub in Lancelin “ain’t no domestic cat”, ABC News reported.

"Just could not believe what we were looking at," witness Helen Gardiner said.

Mrs Gardiner's husband took photos of the cat's prints as "evidence" and said the cat looked towards them before calmly walking away up the hill.

A Western Australia couple captured a large cat walking through the scrub. Source: Chris Lewis / ABC
A Western Australia couple captured a large cat walking through the scrub. Source: Chris Lewis / ABC

In 2021, a woman travelling through the northeast Victoria town of Mitta Mitta, photographed a large black cat walking down a dirt track.

Authorities in the state are sceptical about genuine big cats roaming the wild, with a 2012 government study finding inadequate evidence available to prove their existence.

“Most reports involve sightings of an animal or signs of the presence of a large, unknown animal and are inconclusive without further physical corroborating evidence,” researcher Peter Menkhorst found.

“The clear conviction of some observers about what they saw does not materially increase the veracity of the identification.”

Sightings of thylacines also remain common, despite the animal being declared extinct in the 1930s.

In August, scientists announced a plan to resurrect the species, leading to hope among many that the species could again walk the Tasmanian wilds once more.

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