A man has reported that he and his nine-year-old son had to abandon their barbeque when they encounted a big cat

He described the creature they saw as a brown or tawny puma while setting up a barbeque on the beach at Pwllheli. 

Their encounter took place near Gimblet Rock, Pwllheli, at around 7pm on Thursday, May 12.

The father was forced to make noises to scare the animal away, before immediately leaving the beach in such a hurry they had to leave their barbeque behind.

Jimmy Butler told Puma Watch North Wales: “Me and my son who is nine were about to light a small bbq and stay for a few hours stargazing. My lad grabbed me and said ‘what is that? is it a dog?’

“When I looked I first thought ‘yeah’ but quickly realised this weren’t the case. I panicked and made a bit of noise to which the cat quickly disappeared.

“We left straight away. Apologies for leaving the bbq on the beach but was no way I was hanging around.

“We got back to the car and there was a local about to go fishing and I told him what happened and he said he’d heard of 4 or 5 sightings of the same description in the last few weeks.

“A very surreal experience, I didn’t think they were even in this country!”

A puma. also known as a mountain lion, cougar or panther. is a large brownish cat native to North and South America that is comparable in size to a jaguar.

Puma Watch founder Tony Jones says he believes there could be a population of big cats in the region.

He said: "A visitor to a Snowdonia animal rescue centre back in 1994 recently claimed he was introduced to four puma kittens. He said: 'I strongly suspect that these were released into the wild as they had no paperwork and no money to feed or house them.

'They certainly weren’t there six months later.'"

Gimblet Rock is a rocky outcrop at the end of the town’s beach, also known as Carreg yr Imbill.

It comes just weeks after three friends reported a close encounter with a large cat in the same location.

Tony said: "The previous encounter on this beach occurred around the same time, at around 8pm one Friday evening. After we shared the report of fishermen spotting a “brown or tawny puma” at one end of the beach on Gimblet Rock, the sighting first made headlines in the North Wales Chronicle. It was then reported by other publications including the Daily Post, The Sun and ITV News."

The witnesses added that they believe what they saw may have been a puma.

Paul Wilson, Paul Owen and Patrick Owen spotted the “brown or tawny” animal while parking their cars at Gimblet Rock on Friday, March 18.

READ MORE: Three more encounters with 'big black cat' in Prestatyn and Dyserth

Paul Wilson said: “Myself and two friends had turned up to do night fishing.

“We had just parked our cars when we noticed what at first appeared to be a dog of medium to large size sat upright watching us at approximately 20 metres from us.

“It was sat amongst the dune grass which was on a slope going upwards away from us. I walked a few metres towards it whilst my friend turned his headlights on to illuminate it more.

“We all then realised that it was not a dog but a very large cat that then stood up and turned away and loped away from us turning its head to look back once at us.

"We didn’t see it again. The cat was as big as a golden retriever.”

Mr Jones says the latest sightings have been added to the group's interactive map.

North Wales Chronicle:

He said: "It’s the first sighting reported to us from the Llyn Peninsula, though we’ve had multiple reports of pumas in sand dunes from elsewhere in North Wales.

"Most recently, a black panther was spotted hunting for rabbits and birds in dunes at Prestatyn beach. In September 2021, an animal matching the same description was spotted on the golf course adjacent to the beach in Rhyl."