An Indiana woman trying to protect her cats from wild animal attacks was stunned to discover that the animal she and her boyfriend shot, thinking it was a bobcat prowling in her backyard, was actually a leopard, and now authorities are trying to determine how it got there.
Officials at the Indiana Department of Natural Resources confirmed that a leopard, which is not native to North America - let alone Indiana - was found at the woman's residence in Charlestown. The DNR is investigating where the animal might have come from.
Donna Duke, a friend and neighbor of the woman who found the leopard, told ABC affiliate WDRB-TV in Louisville, Ky., that the woman had been concerned about her cats after a spate of attacks on pets in her area..
"She's got cats that are basically her family," Duke told WCRB.
According to Duke, the woman and her boyfriend stayed up all night Thursday to determine whether there was a bobcat loose in their area. When they saw the big cat in the woods at the edge of her property, the woman's boyfriend shot and killed the animal before it could get any closer, not realizing it was a leopard.
Residents of Indiana are allowed to own exotic large cats but they must have a permit. The owner of a local wildlife refuge center located near the woman's home told WDRB-TV that none of his animals were missing.
Anyone with information on the animal can contact the Indiana Conservation Officers Central Dispatch at (812) 837-9536 or 1-800-TIP-IDNR.
On Friday, an employee at an exotic feline rescue center in western Indiana was seriously injured in a tiger attack.