Residents in Tamworth are being told to stay indoors following the escape of two black panthers from Drayton Manor’s zoo.
The adult animals were released from the theme park following a break-in of their enclosure during the early hours of this morning.
A spokesman for Tamworth Police said: “Panthers will usually avoid human contact, but could attack if frightened or startled.
“We’re advising the public to remain indoors at this time, and appeal for any sightings of the creatures to be reported to us immediately.
“A large town will be an extremely alien environment for big cats of this type and their swift capture is in interests of both the public and animals themselves.”
Andrew Webber, owner of the Tamworth’s Bengali Olaf Priol restaurant said that he woke to discover claw-like marks across the paintwork of his Jaguar sports car.
“I went to get in the car to pick up my morning paper at around 5:30am, and I noticed what appeared to be a huge slash mark across the door,” he said.
“There was no sign of anyone or anything nearby, but I was convinced that they had been caused by an animal of some kind.”
Drayton Manor has said that the theme park will be open as usual on Monday, although the zoo will be off limits until the animals had been recaptured.