Surrey Puma : BRITISH BIG CAT of southern England.
A newspaper term coined in August 1964 when a large cat was reported in the Farnham and Odiham area on the Surrey- Hampshire border.
Pumalike big cat. Length, 3–6 feet. Shoulder height, 2 feet 6 inches–3 feet.
Gold, beige, reddish, or black in color. Large paws. Tail, 2 feet 6 inches long.
Usually nocturnal. Has a strong odor of ammonia. Makes screaming or hissing sounds. Dogs and foxes are terrified of it. Kills both livestock and wild animals. Drags smaller animals from field to field.
Catlike but with claws. Length, 4–6 inches. Half an inch deep. Claw marks left on tree trunks.
Southeast England, with focal points at Bushylease Farm, between Ewshot and Crondall, Hampshire; Hurtwood Common, near Guildford, Surrey.
During the winter of 1962–1963, a big cat made several nocturnal visits to Bushylease Farm, near Crondall, Hampshire.
On August 17, 1964, a milkman near Crondall drove his minivan over a large cat, which jumped over a hedge into a field.
Police took plaster casts of pawprints found near Munstead, Surrey, on September 7, 1964, left by an animal that ran across a long stretch of sandy soil and jumped over a 5.5-foot fence.
This and various livestock killings in the county led to a two-year Surrey puma hunt by police, who logged 362 official sightings from September 1964 to August 1966.
Former police photographer Ian Pert snapped a picture of a large cat by a house at Worplesdon, Surrey, in early August 1966, though it resembles a feral domestic cat, not a puma.
Three children saw a tawny-brown, catlike animal creeping through the grass on the edge of the woods near Woodlands, Hampshire, in September 1972.
Around July 1, 1976, Sally Rose was surprised by a large cat that walked out of the bushes onto a road south of Bracknell, Surrey, and vanished into the woods on the other side.
Construction workers near Reigate, Surrey, saw a large “lioness” several times in mid-October 1977, triggering a police search. One of the men, Keith Livingston, took a photo from a distance.
- C. Stephenson, “A Puma Hunt in Surrey,” Wide World Magazine 11 (1903): 511–515;
- Irene Roberts (letter), The Field 171 (March 19, 1938): 677;
- Charles Bowen, “Mystery Animals,” Flying Saucer Review 10, no. 6 (November-December 1964): 15–17;
- Maurice Burton, “Is This the Surrey Puma?” Animals 9 (December 1966): 458–461;
- Robert J. M. Rickard, “If You Go Down to the Woods Today,” INFO Journal, no. 13
(May 1974): 3–18;
- Robert J. M. Rickard, “The ‘Surrey Puma’ and Friends: More Mystery Animals,” Fortean Times, no. 14 (January 1976): 3–9;
- “‘Puma’: Surrey/Sussex etc.,” Fortean Times, no. 25 (Spring 1978): 33;
- Bob Rickard, “The ‘Surrey’ Puma,” Fortean Times, no. 26 (Summer 1978): 42–43;
- Janet and Colin Bord, Alien Animals (Harrisburg, Pa.: Stackpole, 1981), pp. 48–61; Karl Shuker, Mystery Cats of the World (London: Robert Hale, 1989), pp. 36–40.