MARSEILLE, France (Reuters) -- The southern French city of Marseille called off a three-week hunt for a black panther on Tuesday after the animal sighted by several residents turned out to be a large house cat.

"The 'panther' is just a black house cat -- a very big one though," said a spokeswoman for the local prefecture, adding the animal was about 24 inches long and weighed some 22 pounds.

Police deployed dozens of searchers this month after reports that a black panther was roaming around the nearby Calanques area, popular with tourists for its creeks, rocks and beaches.

Searchers finally caught up with the animal and identified it as a cat but were still unable to catch it, the spokeswoman added.

http://www.cnn.com/2004/WORLD/europe...eut/index.html