This particular case is pretty simple: Bruce Grubb operates a farm near Peterhead, on the easternmost point of Scotland. A few weeks ago, he called the police with a strange report. He believed he had spied a tiger, an actual tiger, on his farm. The police came promptly and an hour-long standoff ensued before an officer realized the tiger hadn’t moved at all. Upon approaching, the officer realized the tiger was in fact a stuffed animal.
How is it possible, you might ask, for a Scotsman to believe that a tiger is on his property? That’s an extremely good question! Here’s why.
The idea of big cats – by which we mean large wild cats including the lion, mountain lion, tiger, leopard, jaguar, or any of the slightly smaller but still pretty big wild cats like the Eurasian lynx or caracal – has a very long and very funny history in the UK. For several centuries, there have been repeated sightings of big cats roaming the wilderness throughout Great Britain.
In reality, there are no wild, big cats in the UK. There are several species of weasel, and the red fox. There is even the Scottish wildcat, though due to interbreeding with domestic cats it’s unlikely that there are any actual purebred Scottish wildcats left (not to mention it is not at all a big cat). That’s pretty much it for carnivores. Every once in awhile, a big cat escapes from a zoo or (more likely) an illegal private collection, but this happens very, very infrequently.
But none of these facts stop Brits from thinking they’ve spotted a big cat in the wild. For hundreds of years, UK residents have dutifully reported sightings to the authorities, which almost invariably turn out to be a dog, a domestic cat, or nothing at all. Analysis of video footage of the “Beast of Bodmin Moor,” which was alleged to be a black panther, revealed that the animal in question was a normal-sized black cat. Between 2010 and 2015, a completely bonkers 455 big cat sightings were reported to the authorities in the UK.
This is all to illustrate the backdrop in which a farmer can see a stuffed tiger and assume it’s real, despite the fact that tigers do not now and have never in recorded history lived anywhere remotely near his farm.
According to the Sun, the officers took the stuffed tiger back to the station with them as a souvenir.