A black panther that was seen roaming rooftops near the French city of Lille has been captured. The juvenile big cat appeared to have escaped from a private home.
Emergency services were called out in the northern French town of Armentieres, after being alerted to the fact that a young panther was having an evening on the tiles.
Bemused onlookers in the town, not far from the Belgian border, had spotted the feline slinking along the rafters of a three-story red brick building.
According to the regional newspaper La Voix du Nord, the panther stopped occasionally to watch a train pass or a cat strutting on the pavement below.
Authorities were alerted, and police threw up a cordon around the building before the ink-black cat slipped through a window to an apartment believed to belong to its owner.
There, a team was able to trap the panther and a veterinarian put it to sleep with a tranquilizer dart. After being put into a cage, the animal was handed over to the care of France's Animal Protection League, who described it as "a baby" and "not at all aggressive."
During its escapade, the panther entered another flat where a 15-year-old girl saw it descending the stairs. La Voix du Nord reported that the teenager believed she had been hallucinating after having medication for the removal of wisdom teeth.
The six-month-old female cat — about the small size of a labarador and weighing about 20 kilograms — was moved to a zoo in the town of Maubeuge on Thursday. She was set to stay for one or two days before being moved on to an animal sanctuary.
The animal's owner appeared to have escaped through the same window, possibly fearing arrest for illegal ownership of a wild animal.
Local media reported that two investigations were ongoing. One, by the police, is against the individual owner and is focused on the danger posed to members of the public. The other probe, by hunting and wildlife authorities, focuses on how the animal was acquired and the conditions in which it was kept.