Has Joe Exotic been to Bedburn?

I do not know the answer to the above question but taking an educated guess here. I am guessing it is “no”.

However, as lockdown insanity sets in, I have taken some time to dust off some old case files, update reports and get them out there in internet land. In the hope that people will come forward with similar experiences.

At the onset of the Covid-19 crisis in the UK, many people took to their televisions to find some solace and a weird phenomenon called Tiger King was spawned from Netflix. The public went mad for big cats. The plethora of odd characters buying, selling and caging beasts almost made us forget that we were essentially a nation entertaining ourselves by watching animal abuse.

What Tiger King has highlighted however is that in America many of these creatures have been released or escaped back into the wild.

Could this therefore be the case in the UK?

There are certainly many, many documented sightings to substantiate this. Up until 1976 when the Dangerous Wild Animals Act became law, pretty much anyone could keep anything in their gardens. Puma as a pet? Once legislation came in it is not unreasonable to say that many of these creatures may have been released into the wild. Deer and rabbit populations would provide plenty to feed on. It is realistic that big cats may have survived in the UK and bred.

I had my own sighting of what I can only describe as a Lynx like creature in 2016 whilst walking my dog in the fields behind my house in Bishop Auckland. The creature came from a woodland area and walked in a cat like manner. It stopped and then crouched down in the grass to watch us as we walked past. Whatever it was it was certainly far larger than a domestic mog. I was certainly unnerved by the whole experience. Like many other stories from witnesses who have claimed to have seen odd things, the last thing on my mind was to get my phone out and take pictures. Something which I now regret. What did happen was instinct kicked in and all I wanted was to get the hell out of there. I was convinced that the beast was stalking my dog. Oddly, my dog seemed to sense this too and unlike his usual reaction to chase when faced with a cat, he appeared to want to get as far away from the creature as possible.

Sometime after this, a family friend recounted a tale of a sighting, whilst out walking her dog early one morning. She was on a secluded path in Bedburn, which is located on forestry commission land in Bishop Auckland. She encountered what she described as a large black cat, about 18” tall and was approximately 15 yards from her. The creature disappeared into the surrounding woodland but as I was to find out this wasn’t the first time such a creature had been spotted in that area.

Teaming up with members of two other paranormal groups (LAPIS and Twilight Worlds paranormal research group). We got permission from a local farmer to set up camp near the woods where the Bedburn sighting had been. Word got around about our expedition and other witnesses began to come forward with big cat sightings in the same area. Timeframes for these sighting ranged from one to thirty years ago. Interestingly, descriptions given all varied. Colours and sizes from black to light brown, small to large. The only thing that witnesses could agree on was that the creatures they saw had cat like features and mannerisms but nothing like any domestic cat.

Our stake out in the woods did not provide the group with any cat sightings, although we did get terrified by a rogue hedgehog scuttling along in the dark.

Interestingly the next morning, social media reports appeared, of a big cat sighting only a few miles from where we had been camped. Coincidence, hoax, genuine or misreporting? We will never probably know.

A couple of posts on some other local media groups brought forward many more reports from the surrounding area. Some of these people wished to stay anonymous for fear of ridicule, a common theme in many of these investigations.

So, in conclusion Joe Exotic probably did not release any big cats at Bedburn. The evidence, however, is mounting up to say maybe someone once did.

COVID allowing LAPIS will be holding their annual conference on 17th & 18th October 2020, in Lancashire. More details are on the website.

LAPIS group details can be found here – 

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