Arizona Black Panther Sighting

I have read many articles of people seeing panther-like big cats that could not be native to the areas where they live and I thought I'd share my story of seeing one.

Around 1972 my husband (at the time) and I were going from Phoenix to California and were about 30 miles or so outside of a small town called Quartsite, west of Phoenix and east of Yuma.

We were on a fairly big freeway road, several lanes wide, when we both spotted a black panther type cat on our right. It was beautiful, about 3 1/2 to 4 feet long (nose to tail), and in the bright sunlight we could see faint spots through its black shining coat.

The animal deliberately crossed the road directly in front of our car, clearing the two-lane-wide road in just two jumps. That would have been ten feet per leap. It then headed into the desert. I estimate its weight at about 40-45 pounds and it didn't resemble a mountain lion in any way other than being of the cat family. The panther appeared to be young, almost kitten-like in its movements, I doubt if it was an adult. It was healthy, slender and very streamlined in its build with a small head and short ears.

I went to the Phoenix Zoo later and told them about what I had seen and they said I was the third person to report seeing such an animal in Arizona. Their only explanation was that it might be a mutation of a Sonoran Desert Jaguar that for some reason was born black and wandered in from Mexico.

Cynthia Butler