updated 6/22/2008 1:31:12 PM ET 2008-06-22T17:31:12

Missouri state biologists said Sunday that a big, black cat killed by a sheriff's deputy has been identified as a leopard.

James Dixon of the Missouri Department of Conservation said the animal was identified by the St. Louis Zoo.

Newton County Sheriff's Corporal Donn Hall shot the animal when it charged him on May 19. A woman had reported the cat was scratching at the door of her home near Neosho.

Leopards are native to Africa and Asia. Conservation officials say the cat killed in Newton County was likely a captive that had escaped. Owners of big cats in Missouri are required to register their animals but the sheriff's department says no one has reported a leopard missing.

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