Reported sightings of a black panther in Puglia, is thought to have escaped from the villa of a mafia boss, The Times has reported.
Police in southern Italy have warned people to stay away from country lanes and keep their pets at home. It was seen around Bari, the report said. It prompted a search by police helicopter teams and the deployment of experts who have confirmed that the creature is a panther from examining its tracks.
A local mayor interviewed by La Stampa said that he had been told that the panther might have escaped from the property of a local mafia boss who had kept the animal as a pet, The Times said.
“If that’s true, someone should confiscate everything he has,” Davide Carlucci told La Stampa. “A while back, someone around here had a tiger. It’s very serious — they bring these animals here and then let them escape.”
Locals have also suggested that the owner may have been influenced by the mafia TV series Gomorrah, which features a Naples gangster who keeps a panther in his apartment, The Times report added.
So far the animal has avoided all traps set by the authorities.