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|A black panther walking along the roof guttering of a building in Armentières, northern France early evening on Sep 18, 2019. (Photo: AFP/Ligue Protectrice Des Animaux Du Nord De La France/LPA-NF/Cristina Devulder)|
The regional fire department tweeted pictures of the big cat, one of which showed it peering in the top-floor window of a three-storey red-brick building.
Another showed it staring out over the city, ears pricked, like one of the stone gargoyles that jut out over the facade of Notre-Dame cathedral in Paris.
"Called out ... for a dangerous animal, the northern fire service was confronted with a big feline roaming the gutters," the fire service tweeted.
The regional La Voix du Nord newspaper reported that the panther, which had escaped from a private apartment, "stopped sometimes to watch a train pass or a cat slinking by on the pavement below."
The police first threw up a security cordon around the building, and when the cat slipped into the window of an apartment believed to be its home, a veterinarian was called in to dart it with a tranquiliser.
The panther's owner meanwhile is believed to have escaped through the same window, fearing being charged with illegal ownership of a wild animal.
After being tranquilised, the ink-black feline, which is believed to be five to six months old, was taken away in a cage and handed over to France's animal protection league.
French police regularly report finding big snakes, lion cubs and other wild animals in private homes.
They are often alerted by videos circulating on social media offering the creatures for sale.