Since the UK's Dangerous Wild Animals Act came into law in 1977, people have not been allowed to keep big cats as pets. Many big cat sightings are of animals that were kept as pets and released, or perhaps ones that escaped from zoos or were purposely released into the wild.
But big cats must be breeding, as they don't live 40 years in the wild: puma last 8-13yrs and leopards 12-17yrs. There've also been occasional sightings of females with cubs.
Leopards and pumas in the wild live in countryside quite similar to the UK: there're pumas in North America and leopards as far north as Siberia.
So, given that the existence of these big cats seems no longer in dispute, I wonder what the UK approach will be, when one of them is cornered? Police supposedly liaise with the RSPCA...but these particular cats are somewhat more dangerous than your average stray moggie!
One hopes police sharpshooters won't kill them on sight...but what will the fate of these once-legendary rural stalkers be?