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Black panther spotted prowling French rooftops prompts astonishment

Jon Sharman

A black panther escaped from its home and prowled the rooftops of a French town.

The animal, which wildlife experts believe was about six-months old, was being kept as a pet and got out through an open window while its owner was on holiday, French media reported.

Police officers, firefighters and the National Wildlife Conservation Authority combined to bring in the big cat after it caused a stir in the town of Armentieres, near Lille.

"She is beautiful, wonderful to see in real life," one neighbour told La Voix du Nord newspaper.

Dozens of people ringed the row of houses to watch the panther explore the rooftops, forcing emergency workers to erect a cordon.

The creature reportedly remained calm throughout, occasionally pausing to watch a train go by or observe a domestic cat.

"In 20 years of service I've never seen that," a police officer said.

Eventually the panther re-entered its home and firefighters took the chance to put a long ladder against the building, blocking the window.

Then, wildlife experts were able to tranquilise it, the Agence France-Presse news agency reported.