The Centre for Fortean Zoology was founded in the UK in 1992 - nearly 20 years ago. Over the past two decades it has expanded to become a truly global organisation. We opened our American office in 2001, our Australian office in 2009, and now - in our 19th year - we are proud to welcome CFZ Canada to the CFZ global family.

Sunday, 11 December 2011

Canadian Black Cats

Across the globe, sightings persist of “black panthers” .  There are black (melanistic) felines;  melanistic leopards are sometimes found in zoos and occasionally in the wild.  Melanistic jaguars (the furry kind, not the cars!) are also sometimes seen both in captivity and in the wild.  Panthers, or mountain lions, pumas, and cougars, are typically tawny and no black specimen has been documented.

On July 30, 2010 a “black panther-like cat” was seen in the Lac George Road area  of Alfred-Plantagenet, Ontario.  It was lunchtime and a gentleman phoned the police to report the cat.  Others had spoken of seeing them, but this was the first police report for this area.  Offers were dispatched, then the Ministry of Natural Resources, but no evidence of a big cat was found.  Although officers suggested it would most likely be a black cougar, the Ministry maintains that it is highly unlikely that cougars are present in this area of Ontario.  Cougars were mostly wiped out in the late 1800’s, but it is possible that they are again building in number.  Over 3000 sightings of cougars in Ontario have been reported.  Officially, cougars are listed as endangered in Ontario. Additional sightings of black panthers/cougars have sprung up in all of Canada’s provinces-even in Port au choix, Newfoundland.

The Ministry of Natural Resources has conducted a rather thorough investigation of the possibility of cougars repopulating in Ontario.  Since 2006 they have been collecting samples of scat, DNA, and photos of tracks.  Wildlife cameras have been placed, but so far no definitive photos of a cougar have been captured.  One OPP officer stated that Eastern Cougars do exist and the DNR agrees. Since 1890 (through August 2011) twenty two people in the US and Canada have been killed by cougars.  None have been in Ontario.

Are there black ones?  This is the real question.  Thousands of reports have come from all over the western hemisphere since at least the early 1800’s.  Several years ago, a fantastic photo of what seemed to be a black panther on a patio circulated on the internet.  Many versions of the location were reported, one being Avonmore, Ontario. Interestingly, Avonmore is a mere 65km south of Alfred-Plantagenet.  This photo is a legitimate one, taken in 2001 by Dr. Dave Rogers in Lander, Wyoming.  Cougars are not rare in that area, and accompanying photos show that this one is not actually black but the typical tawny color.  Since melanistic animals do naturally occur, it may be only a matter of time before a legitimate black cougar is photographed.
Google Books has a great offering called The Eastern Cougar: historic accounts, scientific investigations, and new ... By Chris Bolgiano, Jerry Roberts  (link below).  One of the important items that these authors discuss is the existence of the jaguarondi, a small cat native to extreme southern US and points south.  This cat goes through a phase of its life as black, but it is considerably smaller than a cougar.

One interesting side note—sometimes reports come in that a woman is screaming.  This is often the mistaken interpretation of a cougar.


  1. I would like to reinforce this story. I was walking to get my mail through a wooded path in rural Central New Brunswick eleven years ago when a giant black cat crossed my path. I say giant because it was much longer and more muscular in size than the native black bears. It had genuine, stalking, feline features - with a very long, all black tail which curled slightly upwards. It did not break stride as it turned and looked at me. My little brother was also with me, and we ran home. My mother reported the sighting to DNR, who dismissed it as "probably a large fisher". I am one hundred percent certain that what I saw was of the panther species. This sighting was in 2001. In 2009, a friend and her family saw the same creature in their backyard. This means that, whatever it is, it has adapted to our extremely cold winters and environment and has probably been able to reproduce with another feline, perhaps the once-thought-extinct Eastern Cougar. If this is true than this species of Canadian Black Cat should really be considered our ecosystems' top predator. With a huge diet of deer and moose (both regulated), its clear adaptability, and virtually no competition (except the rare wolf pack) - this animal could THRIVE in Eastern Canada.

    1. I just seen my first one in BC . Very big and yes the tail was very very long and all of it was BLACK . So glad someone else seen it as, I know what I seen and my co-worker . :-) June 17th 2014 . My daughter was just 12 when she said she seen one . Of course we said " no must of been a bear ect . " Another point on listen to your Children lol .

    2. Black Cougar , I seen one with a co-worker June 17th 2014 . Was about 175 lbs and all black . Its tail was very long . Amazing and feel blessed to have seen such a beautiful animal .