Tuesday, February 08, 2005

Can't put their foot on it
Melbourn Herald Sun - Milanda Rout - 08 feb 2005

BIGFOOT, panther, kangaroo or prankster?

That is the question being asked about 15 strange footprints found on a Victorian beach at the weekend.

Kate Perry, 32, and her friends were walking along Blairgowrie beach on Sunday when they saw the 20cm paw prints.

"We thought it was a panther, because we have heard stories about panthers being around Cape Schank," she said after seeing the large prints.

Ms Perry said they were shocked to find 10 to 15 large prints, about 2.7m apart, which went from a dune and stopped near a beach cave.

She would love to find out what left the prints behind. "It is hard to say what it is, but there is something out there," she said.

Melbourne Zoo senior keeper Benjamin Gee said he could not determine what or who left the paw prints after examining the photos. "It does share some characters of a big cat," he said.
"But on closer examination there is absence of rear pads, which cats have."

Mr Gee said the evidence suggested it was not a big cat because the paw prints were too deep. "But it's very difficult to say what it is because you lose a lot of the detail in the sand," he said.

One theory was that they could have been left by a kangaroo's front paw, but there was a lack of other paw marks.

Another strange aspect of the paw prints was the distance between them.

"There is no animal that would have that distance between prints except maybe a giraffe," he said. "And we know it is not a giraffe."

Sightings of big cats have been reported in Victoria for decades, including an amateur videotape that surfaced last year. But it was a big feral cat.

Some people believe big cats were left behind by US marines based in Sale, who kept them as mascots during World War II.