DOB 6/16/93 5/24/16
Fluffy came to Big Cat Rescue from Oregon as a result of the pet trade in July of 1993. Fluffy was always been extremely affectionate until she became an adult.
Servals are great hunters and fishers and she found much more happiness in a natural enclosure filled with trees, palmetto bushes and logs to investigate.
She is quite shy and will usually retreat to the cover of foliage when her enclosure is approached by keepers. However, she is a cat and curiosity always gets the better of her causing her to come out into the open to observe nearby activity.
Fluffy Serval was found down (barely responsive) in her enclosure 5/23/16. The vet came and removed 3 bad teeth. We were ready to euthanize her, but felt like we had to at least try removing the bad teeth and see if she rebounds.
Today she is having an extremely hard time waking up, even though she was very lightly sedated yesterday. She will get her fluids and injections this morning and if she doesn’t turn the corner by this afternoon we will probably have to let her go.
She’s 22 years old, which is twice as long as servals usually live. This photo is one of my favorites of Fluffy back in the 90s down by the lake.
October 2011 –Bongo the serval loves special treats and when he refused them one night his keepers became worried. His behavior had also taken a sudden shift. Big Cat Rescuers made an appointment for him to visit the vet for an exam. Wild cats have a natural instinct to hide their injuries or illnesses so they give very few clues as to when they are not feeling well. Bongo was taken to the vet where he was examined, had xrays taken and blood drawn. Bongo looked great for a 20-year-old cat! His coat was full and sleek, his teeth were in perfect condition, his initial blood work indicated his kidney values were within range and his x-rays showed only mild arthritis. Internal parasites were found in his fecal results for which he was prescribed medication and then he was sent home.
All of the cats at the sanctuary are treated monthly as well as quarterly with specific de-wormers to combat internal parasites, however every now and again some of the cats catch a meal of their own that is not on the Big Cat Rescue menu. We have seen heavy rains during the last few months after which the lizards and frogs thrive. Bongo being the cat that he is must have eaten one of these slimy visitors that visited his enclosure. While Bongo was at the vet, volunteers and interns took the opportunity to do some landscaping in his enclosure. They trimmed up the palmetto bushes, gathered up sticks and raked the leaves. Bongo has completed his course of medication and is doing just fine now, loving his special treats and all.
In 2003 John Babb of Berea, Kentucky shipped an 8 week old serval kitten to a woman in Ohio, who named her Sheena. (The breeder’s website boasts that he is still selling serval kittens to pet owners in the U.S. for $6,000 and abroad for $9,000.)
Fast forward 11 years…
After Terry Thompson released 56 lions, tigers and bears in OH the state decided to ban the private possession of big cats, but grandfathered in the existing animals as long as the owners would build a safe cage, register the animal and provide insurance or a bond, in case their animal escaped and hurt someone.
Sheena’s owner was willing to register her, and apparently kept her in a dog run, but was unwilling to provide insurance. She decided instead to turn Sheena over to the state of OH.
To our knowledge she is the first exotic cat to be surrendered to the Ohio authorities. The ban became law in 2012 and the exotic pet exploiters predicted that hundreds or thousands of big cats would be dumped on the state, but that hasn’t happened.
People who really love their animals will do the minimal things asked of them by law to keep them. Sheena wasn’t that lucky…
Or maybe she was even luckier because when the state of OH called and asked if we would provide a permanent home for her we knew that YOU would help us do that. Please let Sheena know that she is loved and welcome at Big Cat Rescue by donating to her care.
Sheena Serval arrives at the airport.
Sheena Serval arrives with attitude intact. (Thanks for that observation Kiz)
She’s late so it is the middle of the night, but Big Cat Rescuers won’t leave until she is safely loaded and on her way to her forever home at Big Cat Rescue.
Since it is midnight, Sheena will spend the night in the Cat Hospital and be released as soon as it is daylight.
We weigh her in the carrier and then will weigh the carrier after her release into her new Cat-a-Tat to get a good weight on her.
Big Cat Rescuers, including the vet, are all happy to have Sheena Serval arrive. Photos by Jamie Veronica.
A woman in NY was battling cancer, her sister had run off leaving her with her three children ages 6-17 and her home was in foreclosure…. She also had five servals living in her basement!
She would never be able to rent an apartment to keep her five servals and was left no choice but to try and find them a new home. After careful consideration we decided that we were able to rescue the 5 servals and immediately went into action. All the servals currently at the sanctuary live alone which they prefer as they’re solitary by nature, so in order to house 5 servals in one enclosure we had to get creative. We joined two existing enclosures together which made one huge 3000 sq ft space that the servals could roam around in and enjoy.
On top of joining the enclosures together, we added platforms, den boxes, hideaway areas and we were told they had a waterfall as kittens and loved it, so we also added a pool! We received the import permits, loaded the van with carriers and equipment then started on the long drive to New York while others finished preparing the enclosure.
We arrived in Cohoes New York, just north of Albany to a typical residential neighborhood, the 5 servals had been kept in the basement of the house which had been converted into a living room and except for a few escapes over the years including an incident where one of the owners was bit and in hospital for a week, they’d never spent any time outside. There were 4 males, Santino, Doodles, Zoul and Zimba and 1 female Zouletta, all 5 had been declawed and were between the ages of 12 and 14 years.
All the servals except for Doodles are related and had been purchased from a pet store in Latham NY, Doodles was added to the serval pack at a later date and ironically belonged to a man in Florida who’s wife told him to choose between her and the cat!
It was a kind of a bizarre and an uneasy experience to walk into the basement area and see the 5 servals hanging out in front of the fire, by the TV and on top of the hot tub! It is hard to imagine that these cats spent much time out of their concrete floored cell because the furniture and hot tub cover were not chewed and these five love to chew! But most of all it was just sad to see these 5 wild cats in such cramped unnatural conditions. The owners obviously loved the cats and had planned on them being a part of their life, they’d constructed a caged area with a drain in the floor so they could clean more easily and shut them off into the area when they had company or weren’t in the house. The cats weren’t living in filthy conditions, it was obvious they’d been fed as they all looked overweight, the owners recounted stories of them playing on pool tables and with their air hockey game, but it didn’t change the fact that their ignorance had led to the cats living on concrete in these dungeon like settings for over a decade….
Of course life has lots of surprises and circumstances change and the owners are now unable to afford or house the servals any longer…
So the rescue began…
With the help of the owners we managed to get four of the five servals into the carriers quite easily, but Doodles wasn’t impressed with these strangers invading his territory and wouldn’t go into the carrier even after we tried using food to lure him in, so he had to be netted.
Sedating cats is always the last resort, certain cats can react badly to the drugs, so we never do this unless it’s absolutely necessary…
With all 5 servals safely loaded into the BCR van and the last tearful goodbyes said, we began our long drive back to Tampa, we drove straight through the night and over 20 hours later arrived back at the sanctuary!
More staff members were waiting to help unload the cats, we weighed all the servals on the way to their new enclosure, they weighed between 31 and 42lbs, ideally they should have weighed between 20 and 30lbs.
We lined the carriers up and prepared them so we could simply unlatch the doors when we were out of the enclosure. Santino, easily recognizable with his old injury of a broken ear was the first to emerge from the carriers and explore. One by one the other servals finally began to follow his lead and introduced themselves to the outside world and their new home.
The only way we can continue to rescue cats in need like Santino, Doodles, Zimba, Zoul and Zouletta is through your support. Stay tuned for future updates on all 6 servals and how they’re adapting to life at Big Cat Rescue. You can help us change the way people treat big cats by donating at the top right of the page.
These are a few of the photos from the rescue of five servals who had been kept in a NY basement for more than 12 years.
Male DOB 1/1/03
Caravel (Caracal / Serval Hybrid)
Meet Jo Jo the Caracal Serval Hybrid
I first met JoJo the Caracal / Serval hybrid at the South Florida Wildlife Rehabilitation Center in 2005 after a hurricane had taken down the perimeter fencing and dumped piles of deadfall on the cages.
The owner, Dirk Neugebohm, had ended up in the hospital with a heart attack from trying to clean the mess up by himself.
He wrote from what he thought was his deathbed back then to anyone and everyone he could think of asking for help; and asking for help was not something that came easily to this hard working German.
What we found, when Howard and I visited, was a man who was way in over his head. Donations were almost non existent, the cages were old, dilapidated, small and concrete floored. The freezer had been damaged and he had lost his food supply, so we sent food and volunteers to help him clean up and rebuild.
The tiger back then was Sinbad, who lived in what is commonly used for housing parrots. An oval corn crib cage with a metal roof. Sinbad died recently after a snake bite, leaving Krishna, pictured, as the only remaining tiger.
We had a donor and a sanctuary (Safe Haven in NV) that were willing to take Krishna, but we were told that the Florida Wildlife Commission had found someone less than 6 miles away to take him.
Dirk managed to keep his sanctuary afloat, if just barely, for the next 8 years, but a couple days ago one of his volunteers, Vickie Saez, who we had been helping for the past couple of years with infrastructure and social networking, contacted us to say that Dirk was dying of brain cancer in the hospital and that she had convinced him to let the animals go to other homes. She said the Florida Wildlife Commission had arranged for most of the homes, but that Dirk was very happy that we could take JoJo. Our sweet Caracal, Rose, had died July 31st and her cage was empty.
We were told that all of the other cats had new homes waiting, except for Nola the cougar, but she was very ill. We offered to pay a vet to do blood work on her to make sure that she was not contagious. We were concerned because she had a history of some very contagious diseases, which had left her severely debilitated. What concerned us was that her caretaker said she looked bloated.
A vet had arrived to help with the transfer of two leopards to a place in Jupiter. He sedated Nola to see what was wrong.
We are told that he palpitated three melon sized tumors in her abdomen and that with every touch of her belly she exuded foamy blood from her nose and anus. He was sure that there was no hope for her and humanely euthanized her.
This photo was Nola back in 2011. While we were sad that we would not be able to give Nola a new home here at Big Cat Rescue we are glad that she is not suffering any more.
JoJo at Big Cat Rescue
JoJo has arrived at Big Cat Rescue and settled in nicely. It is quite possibly his first time to walk on the soft earth.
His cage has been a small (maybe 60 square feet) of concrete and chain link for at least 8 years and probably longer. He is thought to be about 10 years old. Sometimes breeders hybridize exotic cats because there are no laws on the books that regulate them, but in Florida, the inspectors say, “If it looks like a duck and walks like a duck; it’s a duck.”
JoJo now has 1,200 square feet of earth, bushes, trees and grass.
He really likes the grass. Are you hearing the Beetles lyric, “JoJo left his home in Homestead-Miami looking for some Florida grass?”
A man called on Dec. 13 and I called him back the same day and told him we would take his father’s serval if he would contract to never own another exotic cat.
On the first call he said that his dad was in the hospital and not expected to survive. I told him all of the rules for us taking the cat and he agreed, but then I didn’t hear from him for 20 days.
Meanwhile, on Dec 18 we were asked by USDA to take 2 bobcats from a Donna White, but I never have been able to connect with her. Also, on Jan 1, one of our supporters asked us to rescue a rehab bobcat in CA. We contacted the rehabber there and offered to assist, but they had been misquoted in the press and the bobcat was doing fine.
On Jan 2 he called and said his dad had died and that he wanted us to take Nala. I told he we would need a health certificate and would have to ask the FWC for an import permit, which can take 2 weeks.
On Jan 3 his vet called and asked what we needed him to do as far as a health certificate because no one could handle her. I told him that the vet only has to look at the cat and say it is breathing for the purpose of the certificate. He said his wife was a vet who had worked at Jeff Kozlowski’s big cat place in WI and that he had done some exotic cat work, but that he was very happy he didn’t have to handle her. He said that he knew her vaccines were not up to date; that he thought she was declawed and thought she might have been spayed. Jason faxed me the health certificate that night and the next morning I applied to the FWC for the import permit.
On Jan 4 the son called and asked me, again, what airline to try and I told him Delta might do it, but that it was hit or miss with them. He asked if they would come get her and I assured him they would not and that he would have to catch her, put her in a dog kennel and then at the airport he’d have to show the health certificate and even then they might not take her. I told him a couple hours in the air would be a lot less stress for her than riding all day in the back of a van, but that if the airline wouldn’t accept her, we would come get her. Much to my surprise the FWC issued the import permit the same day and faxed it to me.
I emailed the son and told him the import permit had arrived. He called me late that night and said that Nala had cost him a lot more already than he thought she would to send and that he was going to ask his brother to help pay her 360.00 airfare.
On Jan 5 the son sent an email saying Nala was “paradise bound”, was in the air and would be here by 3PM. We picked her and released her into her newly renovated Cat-a-tat and video will follow soon.
** January 2013 Advocat Newsletter – Nala Arrives – Nala arrived on Sunday, January 5th at Tampa International Airport. She was met at the cargo warehouse by BCR CEO Carole Baskin, President Jamie Veronica, and volunteer veterinarian Dr. Justin Boorstein. After a short car ride she was exploring her 2,000 square foot enclosure; her new home at Big Cat Rescue. http://bigcatrescue.org/advocat-2013-01/