Black panthers not on the loose in Sth Canty
Despite numerous claims of a black panther loose in South Canterbury there have been no escapes by the carnivores, according to the government department responsible for controlling zoos.
The Ministry of Primary Industries (MPI) said there is only one black panther in New Zealand and it is in a containment facility in accordance with the Biosecurity Act 1993. It is in the upper North Island.
There are no panthers in any containment facilities in the South Island.
"It would be extremely unlikely that an animal had escaped and made its way to the Timaru area. There have been no historical reports of panther escapes," MPI spokeswoman Lesley Patston said.
The MPI's role is to ensure that animals of regulatory interest, including exotic creatures like panthers, are contained and that animal welfare requirements are met under the Hazardous Substances and New Organisms Act.
New organisms are not eligible for release into New Zealand and the primary purpose of containment is to prevent their escape.
Ms Patston said there were no private collections of exotic animals in New Zealand.
"Imports of exotic animals to New Zealand can only be made under an importing permit - so MPI would be aware of them."
- © Fairfax NZ News