Aussies have come out of the woodwork, sharing stories of sighting black panthers and "mountain lion" type creatures roaming in Australia throughout the decades, with some reports coming from as recently as this month.
Recently, news.com.au featured a story about Australians who had "no doubt" they'd had real encounters with black panthers roaming the country. Since then, dozens have come forward with stories of their own sightings from around the country.
Some have offered theories, which include panthers having escaped from collectors with crude cages, or long forgotten Aussie zoos left to ruin after running into financial difficulty.
Others said they'd seen the creatures not once, but twice, or even more often, and were so sure of what they'd seen that they were certain it was the same big cat.
Jake Lloyd told news.com.au of watching from a short distance as his dad hunted a "graceful and powerful" puma on their property. He said his father chased the animal next to a 63m long blackberry patch in 1986 and that they were certain it was a "puma".
He said his family returned home one day to find "a very large black animal, just standing there next to (the) blackberry patch".
At the time his family lived on a 600 acre property in Victoria's Otway Ranges and a local bounty was out to catch a real panther.
He said his family had in the past caught large feral cats, but Mr Lloyd said the puma they spotted "had absolutely nothing in comparison" in terms of its size, or ability to move, with a domestic or feral cat.
His father, who got close to the animal, said it was much bigger than his rifle, and had coarse, "gloss black" hair.
"At the time there was a reward for anyone who could prove that the puma exists," Mr Lloyd explained. "I think it was $20,000."
He said the family stayed back, watching the whole time as their father "took his rifle and stalked up the hillside keeping the blackberry patch between him and the cat".
"We watched the whole thing transpire. While he was heading up the hill, crouched, crossing fences and remaining silent, that cat was just relaxed, looking around casually."
Mr Lloyd said as his father got closer and closer to the puma, its large size — in comparison to his dad — became more apparent.
"It genuinely was bigger than or equivalent in length to a Great Dane, and its head was probably even more solid than a Great Dane dog — and it had a long tail that bowed down and back up," he said.
But as his father got within shooting distance, the puma suddenly caught wind of him, and took off, Mr Lloyd said.
He said he saw the panther run 63 metres (he has since measured) taking few strides to cross the distance.
"I can remember it ran about seven strides in total before I lost sight of it at the creek," he said.
He said his dad shot at the animal, but said it was running in a "zigzag" pattern, and within six or seven bounds, it was gone.
Mr Lloyd said at the time he was aged just nine, recalling the experience "tense" but also beautiful and was "glad" he got to see it.
He stressed it was not a large feral cat, explaining that his family had caught one on their property before. "It was a huge black puma/panther, I don't know which of those, but it was amazing."
FAWN COLOURED PANTHER SEEN IN SOUTH AUSTRALIA DESERT
Another man told news.com.au of seeing a "fully grown" big cat, which he believed to be a "mountain lion" in South Australia's Strzelecki desert.
Adam Morgan said he saw the "fawn coloured" feline standing on top of a sand dune in the late 1990s, and that it appeared "fully grown and very healthy".
"Its coat was a fawn colour and the animal was clearly thriving in this environment," Mr Morgan said.
He said he watched the creature for about a minute, as it walked across the top of the sand dune, before it crossed to the other side and disappeared.
Mr Morgan said he believes stories from the area which claim the animal descended from mountain lions either "released or escaped from travelling circuses which moved around the country in the late 19th and early 20th century".
"The animals were expensive to feed and were sometimes released because the owners were reluctant to shoot them," he said.
Dr Ian Macdonald told news.com.au of two sightings he made in 1996, as he drove from Canberra to Adelaide across the flats of the plains in the New South Wales Riverina region.
He said he saw a leopard sized black cat as it slinked across the road, about 40km outside the township of Hay.
From his van he had a "commanding view" of the road, he said, when he first sighted the big cat. He said it walked off the road into nearby bushes, early in the morning.
Dr Macdonald said the cat, which he was "positive" he saw, "had a long rigid curved tail, and … was as big as a leopard".
Incredibly, he saw the creature again as he drove through the area a fortnight after the first sighting.
Meanwhile, a woman who said she had been unaware of recent reporting on big cats told news.com.au she'd seen a panther in the backyard of her mother's home in Sydney's upper north shore in early December.
Rebecca, who requested her surname be withheld, said she and her mother spotted the "large" panther — which she said was as high as her thigh — wandering in the backyard on the edge of Ku-ring-gai National Park one Friday morning.
While the pair was safely indoors at the time, they were only "eight or ten steps" away from the creature. She said she immediately reported the animal to local authorities, one of which told her they receive reports of panthers "from time to time".
Rebecca said the cat was distinctively panther-like, saying its "body was long and quite thin," and that it took some time to figure out what the large animal was.
"Your brain is trying to process what it was because it's not a cat," she said.
She has since had cameras installed to ensure any panther or other creature that walks through the "bushy" backyard is captured on tape.
News.com.au has contacted the NSW Department of Primary Industries for a comment on the claims.
Another woman said after making a terrifying sighting of what she was certain was a large panther, she began stumbling across ripped-open animal carcasses she was sure were explained by the creature she'd seen.
Julie Dodds said in the late seventies, she'd been driving home with her husband and their four children when they happened upon a panther, that stood in front of their car at Maiden Gully, near Bendigo in Victoria.
It was a "large, waist high, black creature in the middle of the road," she told news.com.au. "Its eyes glowed yellow in the car headlights and my husband slowed down."
Ms Dodds said after they made the sighting, they were shocked to discover a large kangaroo had been "ripped open and gutted".
She said in the are at the time, their family home was powered by a generator, requiring them to go outside at night.
"You can imagine how nervous we were when we had to go outside at night," she said.
Farmers in the area were convinced something was going on, as their livestock was viciously killed, they became convinced a wild dog was behind the attacks, she said
"We never did hear anything else about a big black animal in that area," she said.