In January 2016 an interesting story broke via KLTV out of Tyler. Landowner Mitchell Cox of Hughes Springs captured on video what he and many others thinks is a “white panther”.
“When I first saw the white animal, the first thing I thought was, it was a dog. I feel blessed to actually be able to see it,” said landowner Mitchell Cox in the KLTV story.
“The cat jumps across about a 6 foot creek there. At first, my initial thought was it was an edited video, but upon talking to people I believe it’s true. A white albino mountain lion,” investigator Hershel Stroman, of the Morris County Sheriff’s Office told KLTV officials.\
The video is interesting and the animal moves like a cougar but without a closer video (this one was short 50 yards away) it is difficult to tell.
In 2011 a white cougar was born at the Attica Zoological Park in Greece and was aptly named “Casper” proving they are a possibility in nature. A high resolution video or photo of a white cougar would be a major discovery and unprecedented in Texas.
Sightings of “black panthers” are common throughout Texas. Many hunters, fishermen, birdwatchers, hikers and people of all walks of life reporting seeing large long-tailed black cats they label as “black panthers”.
The problems there is no such species as a “black panther” anywhere in the world.
What about the large black cats seen in zoos and on television programs?
Those are black leopards or black jaguars?
Melanism is when a hyper amount of black pigment dominates coloration of an animal. It happens in many animals ranging from squirrels to whitetail deer. Melanism is not uncommon in leopards in certain parts of their range as well as with jaguars. The black cats you see in zoos and on television are all melanistic leopards or jaguars.
The general assumption with “black panther” sightings in Texas is that these are black or melanistic cougars. The problem is there has never been a melanistic cougar observed by science either in a zoo, captive setting, killed by a hunter, mounted by a taxidermist or otherwise positive identified.
There is one grainy black and white photo of a cougar killed in Costa Rica in the 1950s that is very dark but that photo is questionable and on close examination looks chocolate brown instead of purely black. There are dark brown cougars but no melanistic ones we are aware of. For melanistic cougars to be the answer to Texas’ “panther” question there would have to be many of them and there is no proof of any of them.
If you have photos or videos of unusual cats email to [email protected].
Chester Moore, Jr.