Police say they are looking into a possible black panther sighting 13 miles from Swindon.

It came after a 27-year-old dog walker said she was left terrified after apparently spotting the large mammal near Cotswold Water Park, South Cerney, on Thursday.

Gloucestershire Constabulary’s Rural Crime Team said on Twitter: “We’re looking into the report of a black panther sighting in the Wildmoorway Lane area of South Cerney. Any information via 101.”

Ellie Haggart told Gloucestershire Live she had been walking her French Bulldog, Oscar, near the lakes on Thursday morning.

The dog had growled under his breath. “I looked up to what initially I thought was a person crouching down either picking up after their dog or tying their shoelace off the main footpath to the side in the bushes.

“Then the panther came out into full view of the footpath.”

She added: “I didn’t know what it was at first but I knew it was pretty big, I wanted to assume it was an extremely large dog.

“I soon realised there was no owner and then I could start to see certain defining characteristics of the animal like the feline movement of the shoulders and the difference in the shape of its legs compared to that of a dog.

“I don’t know if it saw Oscar and I, but it started prowling slowly in our direction. I was terrified.”

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Stock image of a black panther Picture: PIXABAY

Ellie ran back and jumped to the relative safety of a neighbouring front garden.

It is not the first time black panthers have been reported roaming around the Cotswolds. In 2015, the Adver’s sister paper the Wilts and Glos Standard reported on sightings around South Cerney and in land near Cirencester’s Roman amphitheatre.

Cotswold big cat expert Rick Minter said at the time that it was unlikely the animals would pose a risk to people.

“They don’t take risks, they are not stressed and have abundant food. They might only become aggressive if we made them so, and there are rarely any issues from black leopards and pumas in their native countries,” he said.