The Italian Almanac

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black panther

Italian News - February 16

Italy has been hit by one of its periodic bouts of panther panic with a full-scale 'big game hunt' in Rome. Recurrent reports of a panther on the loose in the capital on Wednesday spurred police to put out an all-points bulletin for the big cat. It was Italy's sixth panther alert in just over a decade.

An early Wednesday morning sweep only smoked out a domestic cat but then the hunt began in earnest. A beast was reportedly tracked to a building site on the city's outskirts but managed to slip through the dragnet, snubbing its nose at police, veterinarians and wildlife experts. Undeterred, the hunters began combing the underbrush around a well-known shrine but again turned up nothing.

Rome city council played down the panther fears Wednesday evening, saying the animal was probably a big black dog foraging for food. It voiced the hope the animal would soon be caught for the good of Romans' nerves.