Minor British Institutions: The Beast of Bodmin

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The Beast of Bodmin was first spotted in 1992 and is probably the most celebrated of Britain's phantom big cats, which are usually blamed by farmers for slaughtering their livestock in an especially savage manner (not like the abattoir, then).

An official inquiry into the phenomenon in 1995 concluded that there is "no verifiable evidence" of alien felines on the loose. Even so, there is at least one authenticated case of a Eurasian Lynx, a species that ought to be classified as a "not-really-that-big-cat", being shot in Norfolk in 1991.

The Dangerous Wild Animals Act of 1976 outlawed the keeping of lions, tigers, cheetahs and the rest as pets, and this may have led to some unauthorised disposals. Still the sightings go on, with Devon topping the league table for spots (not in the leopard sense) and a group (of humans) dedicated to this unique branch of cryptozoology (bigcatsinbritain.org).

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