POLICE were called to a leafy Bournemouth road after reports that a panther had been spotted.

They sent a dog unit to Brunstead Road in Westbourne after Darren Jenner saw the big cat walk down the road before climbing into a tree.

The same creature had been spotted nearly a month earlier in the garden of a nearby property and the owner, Rachael Mould, took pictures and a video.

Darren told the Daily Echo: “Rachael had shown us the video a month ago and I’d forgotten all about it until I saw it walking across the road. It came from a driveway opposite and it was obvious it wasn’t a domestic cat. It was huge with a big head and a thick tail nearly as long as its body.

“It looked like something you’d see in a zoo and I was so shocked I didn’t want to move to get my phone out of my pocket. I was absolutely gobsmacked.”

Rachael added: “When I saw it in my garden it was the size of a large fox and it was a glossy, black colour. It didn’t look like anything I’d ever seen before. I’m the sort of person who is really sceptical about everything so I’m certain it wasn’t a domestic cat.”

Darren’s wife, Amanda, said she knows the story sounds unusual and added: “”I know it sounds ridiculous but both Darren and Rachael are intelligent people and they know what they saw.”

She added: “As soon as I put something on Facebook people started putting pictures of the Pink Panther up and asking if we’d been drinking too much wine.

“I realise some people will find it funny but there’s a serious side to this. There are a lot of domestic pets and children in this area and they could be at risk.”

Amanda said she called the RSPCA first but was told there was nothing they could do. She then contacted police.

“A very nice officer arrived from the dog unit but he decided not to get the Alsatian out of the back of the car” she said.

A police spokesman said a report was received just after 8pm on Tuesday and added: “We did attend and a search of the area was carried out, but nothing was located. Advice was given to contact the RSPCA if another sighting took place.

Mr Jenner said the creature was last seen climbing a tree into a private garden.