The Beast of Sydenham

By london_will Last edited 166 months ago
The Beast of Sydenham
An artist's reconstruction of the scene as it happened. Notice the pure menace in the cold eyes of the beast.

South London is shaping up to be an extremely dangerous place to be - first there was the gunplay in Brixton, and now there are reports that a big cat has attacked a man in Sydenham.

The Beast is described as being the size of a labrador dog, so Londonist isn't ruling out the possibility of it being a labrador dog. And in true horror-film-cliche ironic-death fashion, it lunged at a man who was looking for his kitten.

"I am 6ft and weigh 15 stone and it was considerably stronger and bigger than me," the victim, Anthony Holder, told the BBC. "This thing was huge."

"Its teeth were out and I tried to defend myself and eventually I got the thing off my body."

Note the BBC's picture. I wonder how they got that? Our artist's reconstruction of the scene, above right, is about as likely.

This will be big news for Big Cat Monitors, the organisation devoted to cataloguing UK big cat sightings. Their site offers the following advice for people confronted by an outsize moggie, which Londonist readers who live in Sydenham are advised to heed:

"Never approach a big cat, especially one that is feeding or with cubs. Most big cats will try to avoid confrontation. Always give them a way to escape. Don't run. Stay calm. Hold your ground, or back away slowly. Face the cat and stand upright, but don't look at it straight in the eyes. It may take this as a challenge. Do all you can to appear larger."

Do all you can to appear larger? If there was ever a better excuse to hit the pie shop, and hard, I've never heard it. Fortunately: "Generally, big cats are calm, quiet, and elusive. The chance of being attacked by a big cat is quite low compared to many other natural hazards."

We will keep you posted on developments, or if the Yeti is spotted in Crystal Palace, or maybe the Loch Ness Monster in Brockwell Lido.

In the mean time, who's up for a safari?

Last Updated 22 March 2005