Sarasota News Leader

09/21/12

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Sarasota News Leader September 21, 2012 want to up-chuck too. (Readers, if you sus- pect you have a resident owl in your yard, check for little scraps of regurgitated mice bones and pelts under a tree, usually an oak.) Unlike the ibises that flock together (safety in numbers; please see http://sarasotanews- leader.com/ask-otus-the-prescient-ibis/), owls and other raptors are more solitary and will claim separate territories for their hunting, mating and chick-raising. This in part is due to the fact that owls compete with so many other birds, mammals, and reptiles for the same food: insects, mice, crayfish, grubs, etc., that it is wiser for them to spread out and prevent a lot of food fights at the dinner table. When Siesta Key was voted No. 1 Beach in the USA, Offal, a very astute real estate investor, sold his tiny tree hole — an aban- doned woodpecker's nest — on the north end of the key and now resides in his own splendidly huge oak at Historic Spanish Point. Now, to the great mystery: A few days ago, Offal informed me that a visitor to HSP saw a Florida Black Panther prowling around. As THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS A BLACK PANTHER, I would have ignored this news, but Offal, despite his bad table manners, is the leading owl authority on cryptozoology in all of Sarasota County and his report must be taken seriously. He's such an expert on the subject that he even considered a visiting-professor position at Ravenclaw House, Hogwarts, but nixed the idea after seeing the dreary, drafty board- ing conditions at its Owlery. (Please see http://harrypotter.wikia.com/wiki/Owlery) Page 79 For every single reported sighting of a black panther, there are at least a dozen schol- arly and scientific treatises repudiating its existence. I chose this particular link out of hundreds of others because it not only has superb video footage of the beautiful wild cats at Big Cat Rescue, but Chelsea Feeny, its staffer/narrator, gives the most succinct- ly intelligible explanation of exactly what a black panther isn't and why it does not exist. (Please see http://www.youtube.com/ watch?v=6przuR7ITfY&feature=related.) That's on the one panther paw. On the oth- er paw, I have not found a single scholarly repudiation of a Pink Panther's existence. Home builders and remodelers should enjoy watching this. (And, yes, I'm aware than I have two more paws to go!) If Florida black panthers are proven not to exist, what is it that people are seeing and reporting around here? All we know is that it is a cat — large and black, with a mark- edly long tail, with emphasis on the "long" tail. Sightings have been reported by reli- able witnesses throughout Florida, as well as on Siesta Key, using those exact same

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