Big cat remains elusive

01:43, Jan 31 2009
MAN EATER: Reports of a 'big cat' in Kaiwaka remained unconfirmed.

Despite national media reports of a Kaiwaka firefighter claiming he saw a "big cat" when he and his son were out on a search and rescue exercise, Northland’s Zion Wildlife Gardens insists that its 42 lions, tigers, cheetahs and a leopard are secured at the park.

One report in the Sunday News and another on TV 1 on Monday, says Kaiwaka fire fighter Alan Swanson claimed he was about 30 metres away from the beast when he saw it on the ridge of the Parker Lime Company Quarry, on May 29.

Mr Swanson says other locals have also seen the cat.

The reports claimed Mr Swanson is convinced the animal was a lion, and a local minister also saw a lion on the same road while he was duck shooting a few years back.

Mr Swanson told the newspaper he thought it "a bit strange no half-eaten sheep or other animals have been found".

The Dargaville and Districts News has not been able to locate Mr Swanson but we contacted Zion Wildlife Gardens the home of TV2’s Lion Man Craig Busch, at Ruatangata, north of Whangarei, on Monday and a spokesperson there says, as she told the Sunday News, that there were "no cats missing from Zion Wildlife Gardens".

The Kaiwaka report has taken on the same mystery that an alleged black panther sighting in mid-Canterbury did.

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