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Did Mystery Cat Decapitate Olivia?

Posted by: Loren Coleman on January 27th, 2009

With decapitations in the wind, as I have discussed elsewhere regarding the Batman rollcoaster decapitation last June, the “Windigo beheading” of last July, and the very recent horrific news from VA Tech, is it surprising that an animal beheading should overlap into the cryptid world too?

Could a big cat be to blame for death of Olivia the ostrich?

Riddle of 7ft bird found decapitated at Somerset zoo

By Steven Morris, The Guardian, London, Tuesday 27 January 2009 14.11 GMT

They are not having too much luck with their ostriches at the Noah’s Ark Zoo Farm in Somerset.

Just last year their fiery male, Oscar, died after battering himself against a fence while trying to get to a group of tempting-looking emus on a faraway hill.

And today, keepers at the zoo in Wraxall, near Bristol, are trying to work out what terrible fate has befallen Olivia, one of their two female ostriches.

Horrified staff found Olivia very much dead, her head bitten clean off. At first they assumed a tenacious fox had slipped through the deer fence and somehow managed to bring down the 7ft-tall bird.

But from the shadows, big cat experts have emerged to suggest that it might just have been one of the wild cats that, some believe, prowl areas of the south-west of England.

Chris Hall, of Big Cats in Britain, said: “There have already been several sightings in the Bristol and Gloucester area so it’s quite likely that one of the beasts is to blame.

“Ostriches are no pushover and it would have been a very strong creature to try its luck with such a formidable bird.”

The run of bad luck for the zoo’s ostrich flock began when Oscar started charging a fence.

Zoo owner Anthony Bush said: “We rang up Oscar’s owner and asked him why. He told us that Oscar had been in love with some emus. There happened to be two emus in the next-door field.”

Bush moved the emus to where they really belonged – the Australasia section of the zoo – and thought the problem would be solved. Sadly, from the Africa area, Oscar could still see the emus.

He began charging another section of fence until he knocked himself senseless. The vet was called but could not save him.

Bush said he believed it was possible a big cat was in the area. Indeed, a sheep had recently been badly mauled, prompting one keeper to sleep out in the hope of seeing a big cat.

But he believes Olivia may have been spooked by a fox, bashed herself against a fence and then, once she had been incapacitated, lost her head to a fox.

“The sad thing is that if Oscar had still been around he would have seen off the fox. The females are more placid and easily spooked. They are creatures of very little brain.”

Thanks to Tim Chapman for passing this along.

Loren Coleman – has written 5491 posts on this site.
Loren Coleman is one of the world’s leading cryptozoologists, some say “the” leading. Certainly, he is acknowledged as the current living American researcher and writer who has most popularized cryptozoology in the late 20th and early 21st centuries. Starting his fieldwork and investigations in 1960, after traveling and trekking extensively in pursuit of cryptozoological mysteries, Coleman began writing to share his experiences in 1969. An honorary member of Ivan T. Sanderson’s Society for the Investigation of the Unexplained in the 1970s, Coleman has been bestowed with similar honorary memberships of the North Idaho College Cryptozoology Club in 1983, and in subsequent years, that of the British Columbia Scientific Cryptozoology Club, CryptoSafari International, and other international organizations. He was also a Life Member and Benefactor of the International Society of Cryptozoology (now-defunct). Loren Coleman’s daily blog, as a member of the Cryptomundo Team, served as an ongoing avenue of communication for the ever-growing body of cryptozoo news from 2005 through 2013.


9 Responses to “Did Mystery Cat Decapitate Olivia?”

  1. shumway10973 responds:

    If the head was bitten off, then we should be able to get dna samples. After all I leave saliva when I bite something. Wasn’t there any foot prints? Teeth marks? Maybe fur left behind? CSI would have figured this out by now.

  2. fossilhunter responds:

    Hmmm. I am currently reading a book titled “We Bought a Zoo”, by Benjamin Mee, about a family that moved to Devon, UK (about 50 miles [80 km] from Sommerset) into a house with a zoological park in the back! Four days after having moved in, they had a jaguar escape its enclosure. It was safely captured.

    On Day Seven the author was driving two fellows to the park at about 11:30pm. They were driving through a section with six-foot high walls along the roads (with woods beyond) when they all saw a deer poking its head over the wall. As they got closer they realized it was a puma! Being zoo-type folks they all knew exactly what they had seen, and were close enough to their animal park to worry that they’d had another escape. Speeding to the park they discovered both of their pumas still in their enclosure.

    The next day he mentioned the sighting to two staff members, one of whom is a volunteer of the Big Cats Sighting Society.They were told that there were indeed pumas in the area living wild, and occasional sightings right inside the zoo! The female pumas at the park seemed to attract males down off the moors when they were in heat. A credible groundsman had seen a female with two cubs a few miles away.

    The story of Olivia (above) does not say if they found the head, if there were any other signs of attack, or if any of the bird was eaten. It would be interesting to hear a more complete description of the scene. It seems to me that any animal would leave tracks, and not just lop off the ostrich’s head and leave, unless scared off.

  3. fossilhunter responds:

    Whoops!
    May have been off on the distance between the parks. More like 90 miles, or 145 kilometers. Still, not too far for a vicious, snarling carnivorous puma. (And hungry!)

  4. scotcats responds:

    Regards this, no one from Big Cats in Britain have actually seen the body of Olivia. Reporters rang mysef, and Chris Hall. They tried their best to make us say that a big cat was responsible, we would have no way of knowing especially when myself and Chris are based in the North of England, and Scotland.

    Apparently a post mortem was carried out, when asked for the results there seemed to be none, or they didn’t know.

    Seen this before with a rhea, everyone, even the vet, was adamant that a big cat was responsible. I was the one who said dog, but no one listened, (quite a turn around that one :)The culprit was caught a week later attacking another rhea, it was a stray Alsatian dog. The print found at the scene was that of a dog, should have ended that one really.

    Ww will just have to wait and see until we find out more. I did ask them to contact zoologist Chris Moiser, British big cat investigator, and owner of Tropiquaria Zoo, in Somerset were this incident occurred.

    Fossilhunter, don’t believe everything you read in the books, I dare say Chris M could shed a lot of light on the events in that area!! But that can wait for another time.

    Mark Fraser

  5. greatanarch responds:

    It would be a very bold fox that would tackle an ostrich: chickens are their usual level. And biting right through the neck?
    Unfortunately, this sort of animal mutilation can also be the work of humans.

  6. Viergacht responds:

    Seriously, you have to wonder what was going through that fox’s mind.

  7. nzcryptozoologist responds:

    I find it unusual that only the head was attacked and possibly taken as normally large carnivores such as Big Cats generally go for areas with more flesh when feeding.
    Yes the initial killing attack is generally a neck bite but then it is the large organs and areas of denser flesh that are focused on.
    The only thing I can put this down to is obviously the animal must have been disturbed shortly after the initial killing attack.

  8. gkingdano responds:

    I think the most likely answer is that the bird went unconscious due to the fence with its head outside the fence. The head was then chewed off by some normal local meat eater (ie. fox) then carried off to eat at a safer location or stash for later consumption like foxes are know to do world-wide. I believe big cats are loose out there, but WHY does EVERY dead animal have to be ONLY able to be killed by some big terrible killer cats for hell?

  9. cryptidsrus responds:

    Gkingdano:
    One has to admit at least this is very weird—don’t you think???
    Poor Olivia.



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