The Italian Almanac
Italian News - December 29
Italy is in the grip of renewed panther panic. Fears of a wild feline on the prowl have hit the country for the fifth time in just over a decade. The latest reports came from concerned citizenry on the outskirts of Turin early this week.
Police were put on the lookout and a traffic cop managed to identify the big cat as a black panther. This prompted rumours that a Moscow zoo currently performing in Turin had lost one of its biggest draws.
A zoo spokesman denied the rumors. "We don't have any panthers anyway. All we have are dogs, camels and horses". However, the policeman is reportedly adamant he saw a black cat and searches are still on. Police are looking in suburban hedges and combing underbrush north-west of the Piedmont metropolis.
Italy is no stranger to reports of predators on the loose. Most of the others have come amid midsummer news droughts known to journalistic insiders as "the silly season." Panthers were reported to have been sighted in the harsh landscape of central Sardinia in 2001 and the rolling countryside of central Umbria in 1993 and 1995.