Lake Placid’s Black Panther

Posted by: Loren Coleman on April 25th, 2008

Large eastern North American cryptid felids are generally referred to as “Black Panthers,” no matter what the description. The practice is commonplace. It has little bearing on what the animal’s classification alignments may be.

This breaking news out of the Lake Placid area of New York tries to jumble around the science and speculation to include black leopards and melanistic jaguars – and remarkably exclude the realities of folk use of the term “Black Panther.” The rather illogical statement in this media account that “black panthers,” in fact, “do not exist” is incorrect. After all, “black panther” is merely a name. Black leopards in Asia and Africa can be called “black panthers” and they do exist. “Black pumas” are unverified and can be called “black panthers”: they may exist.

“Panthers” is another name for pumas. The term “panther” itself has nothing to do with color without the adjective “black.”

Bottomline is that this is a report of a melanistic cat, which is cryptic, unknown, uncaught, and unexplained: a “Black Panther.”

A black leopard (or jaguar) was sighted Saturday morning off Schaefer Road in Keene.

“Honey, I think there is a bear in the compost,” said Tsermaa Plumley around 9:30 a.m. as she listened to the sounds coming in from the outside.

“It’s too early in the season for bears,” said Dan. “Maybe it’s a fisher.”

“I heard something in the compost,” said Tsermaa to me the next day. “For some reason I looked through the window and I said, ‘It’s a huge black cat!'”

That got Dan’s attention. He got up, looked out the window and saw a huge cat. Really huge. “Stay where you are,” he said, heading down the stairs to grab his camera and race outside.

“It was walking around very slowly,” said Tsermaa. “Just roaming around. It had this very large and long tail that would wave slowly from side to side. Swish, swish. I was watching him walk on our driveway. Dan came out. He was looking for the cat but he couldn’t see him.”

“He came so close,” said their daughter Evella. “The cat was behind him.”

“The cat was just sitting there and started washing his face,” said Tsermaa. “Evella and I started yelling. The animal heard the distant noise. His ears perked up. He got attentive. Then he spotted Dan.”

“It was freaky,” said Evella. “My dad was so close to it.”

“I got a perfect view of its shoulders. They rolled when it walked. Its tail was so long. I couldn’t believe what I was looking at,” said Tsermaa.

“Clearly someone must have let it go,” said Dan. “This must have been an exotic pet that had gotten too big for its owners. Either they let it go or it escaped. Had I known it was going to hang around I would have brought the camera upstairs and photographed it from there. It had to be four and a half to five feet long from its head to the tail. I judged its length in comparison to the driveway. I think it didn’t hear me because I was in my bare feet.”

“It had a long and heavy tail,” said Tsermaa. “When it turned its head and saw Dan it loped off. When Dan showed me a picture of a black leopard on the Internet, I said, “‘Oh my gosh. That’s it. That’s exactly what we saw.'”

Some might think, a black panther, but they do not exist. Panther is the generic name for a variety of large cats, which includes cougars and leopards. Black leopards are actually not black but a very dark brown, and they are spotted, but the color of the spots and the fur is so close they tend to be thought of as being solid black. Nor are they native to the Americas; however, the black jaguar is. It can be found along the border with Mexico and, like the leopard, is not truly black but spotted and very dark brown. According to Wikipedia there have been a few sightings in Arizona, New Mexico and Texas. And they tend to run about 50 inches long — about the size the Plumley family saw. Since the female’s home range is about 9 square miles and the males about 39 square miles, the Plumleys and others in Keene may have this visitor more than once.

Cougars used to live in the region. They are also known as pumas, mountain lions and panthers, amongst others. While they are still fairly well established in the west, and Canada, the Eastern cougar is rare, although sightings do occur as has happened this year a couple times near E-town. However, they are tan, not black. Western cougars get to be about 150 pounds for males and 100 for females.

Black jaguars can get bigger that that, but that’s the South American variety. They will eat most any protein ranging from beetles and rodents to fish and deer. Dusk and dawn are their favorite times to be out hunting, and they are not as nocturnal as once assumed. They tend to kill their prey by using their powerful jaws to bite through the heads. Once dead, they tend to haul prey into trees and dine on them there. So if you hear a crunching sound coming from above it could be our visitor.

“It was very powerful,” said Tsermaa. “It’s head moved from side to side as it walked.”

Source: Missing your leopard? by Naj Wikoff, Lake Placid News, Lake Placid, New York, April 24, 2008.

Appreciation to Chad Arment, author of Boss Snakes: Stories and Sightings of Giant Snakes in North America, for this report and link.

Loren Coleman About Loren Coleman
Loren Coleman is one of the world’s leading cryptozoologists, some say “the” leading living cryptozoologist. 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. He returned as an infrequent contributor beginning Halloween week of 2015. Coleman is the founder in 2003, and current director of the International Cryptozoology Museum in Portland, Maine.

10 Responses to “Lake Placid’s Black Panther”

  1. PhotoExpert responds:

    Very interesting story! That witness also sounded very credible. He obviously saw a big cat that was not a house cat. This would be one story to follow as it progressed. Thanks for the heads up.

  2. shumway10973 responds:

    I find it rather ironic that this comes from lake placid. I know that the lake in the movie of the same name wasn’t placid, but in the first one the sheriff said they wanted to name it placid. Big, black beauty. I do wish there was a picture. This one sounds good to me. What is the federal and New York law on owning such an animal. I’m familiar with California’s, but I was just wondering how difficult it would be to legally own one around there.

  3. Foxfier responds:

    That got Dan’s attention. He got up, looked out the window and saw a huge cat. Really huge. “Stay where you are,” he said, heading down the stairs to grab his camera and race outside.

    Crazy twit is lucky he wasn’t hurt.

    I do remember various members of my family mentioning seeing black panthers up in Cali/NV; they regarded them as very neat, like a white deer.

  4. cryptidsrus responds:


    I agree maybe the guy got a little bit TOO close, but I don’t blame him for going outside to at least take a picture of it.

    Fascinating report. Sounds very credible.
    the fact that the “panther” was said to be “washing its face” lends a PARTICULAR air of credibility.

  5. Cryptid Hunt21 responds:

    My friend traveled to Lake Placid today! I better tell her this when she comes back. Or if she sees it!

  6. Zackh responds:

    shumway, I’m pretty sure it’s probably an illegal pet or escaped from a zoo or circus. Still, I mean would you walk up to a huge black lion-sized, cat doesn’t seem to describe it, makes it sound like something small that goes “meow”, feline creature that could probably bite your head off, that takes A) guts B) a really stupid guy. Can we have a picture too? I think I have one with it that makes it look like a bear. I haven’t seen anything like that though. All I’ve that’s out of the ordinary is purple blood seeping out of a skunk that was obviously road kill. God it smelled for so long too. Poor college kids, it was practically on their campus.

  7. gkingdano responds:

    I know in south Texas along the river there jagarundis that are bigger than a bobcat but smaller than the puma. They are very allusive and their color is very dark (could be called black). I doubt that this was one due to that they rarely if ever make it north of the valley. But there are panther shaped cats that could be described as black in America.

  8. chrisandclauida2 responds:

    first lake placid had huge 30 foot alligators and now powerful black panthers.

    lets send bill pullman oliver platt and bridget fonda to capture the cats. they did outstanding work on the alligator.

    i just hope that little old lady still isnt feeding barn yard animals to the areas cryptids.

  9. maslo63 responds:

    I believe the lake in the movie was located in Maine and was called “Black Lake”. There is an actual Black Lake in NY as well though. I have been to lake Placid but nope…no big cat sightings. Its nice to hear about a cryptid sighting close to home (Central NY).

  10. Osacr responds:

    In 2002 I lived in Upstate NY in Saint Lawerece county NY. I read in a local paper ( I think the Yankee trader that) there was a gun show at the local VFW hall so I went. I looked at a map to see the shortest route , it was called the Russel Turnpike ( I was very suprised to see a “Turn pike in such a remote area ) only 2 miles from my house just outside of Potsdam NY.

    I found the “turnpike” , it was a dirt road that went on for miles. I finally got to the main road and made it to the big “gun show” which was only 3 miles from the “Turnpike”. The show was only about 15 tables with old rifles and some fishing gear. Needless to say I was disappointed so I went home taking the same route back. Well all dirt roads look a like so I got a little lost. After an half hour I found an area I think called Saint Lawerence county re-forestation area 214 I think ( you can look it up on google if you like ).

    Having a slow day and not to be the type of person that is quick to be discouraged I stoped and with my Black Lab named Mikey a 12 gauge shotgun to try to tag a bird for dinner ( Pheasents make a delicous meal) . We started walking. Not even 300 yards in to this dirt road THERE IT WAS . As my dog quarted back and forth , uhead of us (Mybe 30 yards) a very large Black Panther ran across the path from us . This cat was BIG with a very long tail that curled over his body but never moved as it bounced across the path , This cat was much bigger then my dog. I called back my dog before he could smell it and looking at my dog and 12 gauge I knew we where in the wrong place at the wrong time , and I was surly not ready to deal with this cat so we got back to my truck as fast as possible.

    The next day I went to the local DEC office to ask what they could tell me about these cats . The oficial responce was – ” There are no cats like that in NY State” They tried to tell me it was a Lynx , I looked them in the eye and told them ” I know what I saw “!! Before I left I told them I would get a traker cam that I had and prove to them that these cats were here. They said “your mistaken and have a nice day ” but before I cound make it through the door one DEC officer came up to me and asked to see the cat when I got the pics developed.

    You see there offical stace is that there are no cats like this BUT THEY KNOW THERE ARE !!! They are keeping it a under wraps to either protect the cats or not to scare the public.

    I have 20/15 vision which is pretty good and a good understanding of the out doors and wildlife . Well even after baiting the area I was never able to get him on film. BUT I KNOW WHAT I SAW !!

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