A Charlestown, Ind., man shot and killed a leopard that had been prowling in his girlfriend's backyard late last Thursday.
The couple, who did not want to be identified, had been on the lookout for a "bobcat" that they thought had been attacking cats and dogs in the community, a neighbor, Donna Duke, told Kentucky-based news outlet WDRB. Duke said that the man and his girlfriend had taken turns watching the woods near their house from the roof.
"She's got cats that are basically her family," Duke told the station of her neighbor. "She was trying to protect her babies.”
After the man shot the animal, the couple realized it wasn't a bobcat. On Friday, officials at the Indiana Department of Natural Resources confirmed that the big, spotted cat was a leopard -- a species not native to Indiana, let alone North America.
Tim Stark, who runs an animal refuge located half a mile from where the animal was shot, told WDRB that the leopard wasn't one of his.
"To my knowledge, nothing's ever got off my property," said Stark, who had received calls about a large cat on the loose prior to the fatal shooting and had set traps in the hopes of catching it.
Authorities think the leopard may have been someone's escaped pet. ABC News reports that Indiana residents are allowed to own exotic animals, but must have a permit for them.
According to NBC News, officials from the Indiana Department of Natural Resources are investigating the matter with the help of federal agencies, in hopes of determining the animal's origin.
Leopards are closely related to lions, tigers and jaguars, and are native to Africa and parts of Asia, according to National Geographic.
Strangely, this was not the only incident involving a large cat to make news in Indiana last week. On Friday, a worker at an animal refuge in western Indiana was mauled by a tiger. According to police, the woman had been cleaning the tiger's cage when it attacked her.
(Hat tip, Fark)