Police Investigate Man Who Took Black Panther to City Park for Selfies With Locals

A Russian man is under investigation for bringing a black panther to a city park to earn cash from locals who wanted to be snapped next to the huge feline.

The Prosecutor's Office of Saint Petersburg opened a criminal case into the unidentified man for his unusual hustle.

Investigators found he had taken the wild animal to a nature reserve on the south coast of Neva Bay in order to charge park-goers to have their photo taken with the big cat.

Black panther at photo shoot in Russia
Russian environmental prosecutors and employees of the Committee for Nature Management of St. Petersburg, Russia, say a black panther was brought to the Southern coast of the Neva Bay reserve by its owner for a photo shoot. @rocsb/Zenger

Authorities arrived on the scene while he was providing his "services" and he tried to leave discreetly but was stopped by police officers.

Investigators found that the panther's owner was only authorized to keep the feline in zoos outside the Saint Petersburg city boundaries.

The big cat's accompanying veterinary documents were unavailable when police requested them for inspection.

The prosecutor's office has opened a criminal case into the man, but he has been allowed to keep his animal until its seizure is authorized.

Black panthers are the melanistic color variant of the leopard (Panthera pardus) or the jaguar (Panthera onca). They are documented mostly in tropical forests.

Black panther at photo shoot in Russia
Investigators found that the panther's owner was only authorized to keep the feline in zoos outside the Saint Petersburg city boundaries. @rocsb/Zenger

In a statement obtained by Zenger News, the Prosecutor's Office of Saint Petersburg said: "The environmental prosecutor's office of Saint Petersburg, with the participation of specialists from the North-Western Interregional Department for Supervision in the Sphere of Nature Management, the Committee for Nature Management, Environmental Protection and Ensuring Ecological Safety of Saint Petersburg, and employees of the internal affairs bodies, conducted an audit of the implementation of legislation on the protection of wildlife objects.

"It was established that a panther was brought to the territory of the state nature reserve 'Southern Coast of the Neva Bay' in order to provide photographic services.

"On the same day, after the arrival of the control and supervisory authorities, the owner of the animal tried to leave the place of the photo session but was stopped by the police.

"It was established that, in accordance with the license, the owner of the panther was granted the right to keep and use the animal exclusively in zoos located outside the boundaries of Saint Petersburg. In addition, veterinary accompanying documents were not available at the time of the inspection.

"By the decision of the Committee for Nature Management, an administrative offense case was initiated against the owner of the panther, provided for by Art. 8.37 and 8.35 of the Code of Administrative Offenses of the Russian Federation. Proceedings in the case of an administrative offense under Art. 8.35 of the Code of Administrative Offenses of the Russian Federation was transferred to the North-Western Department of Rosprirodnadzor.

"As part of the administrative investigation by the North-Western Department of Rosprirodnadzor in accordance with Art. On 27.10 of the Code of Administrative Offenses of the Russian Federation, a protocol for the removal of the animal was drawn up. Until the end of administrative investigations, the animal has been handed over to the owner for custody."

Black panther at photo shoot in Russia
Russian environmental prosecutors and employees of the Committee for Nature Management of St. Petersburg, Russia, say a black panther was brought to the Southern coast of the Neva Bay reserve by its owner for a photo shoot. @rocsb/Zenger

This story was provided to Newsweek by Zenger News.