Serval confiscated in Mass
Exotic cat removed from Holden
By Jean L. Hill
TELEGRAM & GAZETTE STAFF
This serval, an African cat, was confiscated from a Holden residence because the owner did not have the license required for keeping the animal. It has been placed in a facility where it is undergoing medical tests. (COURTESY PHOTO)
HOLDEN— A small to medium-sized exotic, spotted African cat, removed last week from the residence of a person unlicensed to possess the animal, is in good health and living in an undisclosed facility, according to Vanessa A. Gulati, spokesperson for the Executive Office of Environmental Affairs.
Ms. Gulati said the adult cat, which she believes is a female, had been well taken care of and is undergoing medical tests at an appropriate facility. She declined to disclose the name of the facility, saying she did not want the animal or medical health tests to be disturbed.
The serval was found in an apartment at 981 Main St. in the care of Kris Gould, 27, according to Police chief George R. Sherrill. Mr. Gould does not have a listed telephone and no one answered the door at the apartment at midday today.
Chief Sherrill said police got a call June 8 about a “lion-like” animal in an apartment, and were particularly concerned for the well-being of a young child who is sometimes in the residence.
He said concern was heightened by the fact that a child was recently scratched in the eye by a family cat and sustained a serious eye injury in an unrelated incident.
Animal Control Officer Michael S. Sendrowski and state environmental police officer Andrew Beaulieou accompanied police to the apartment, said Chief Sherrill.
He said the officers saw the cat looking down at them from a screened window as they stood in the driveway.
Chief Sherrill said that because it is illegal to possess a serval as a pet in this state, the state environmental police and a special agent with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife are investigating.
Ms. Gulati said today that no charges had been issued against Mr. Gould or anyone else in the serval cat possession case, but she did not rule out the possibility of charges being filed. The circumstances of possessing the cat, including how and from where the cat was obtained, and whether it was purchased, remain under investigation.
Possessing a serval in Massachusetts and many other states requires a permit from the United States Department of Agriculture, which does not allow servals to be kept as pets in Massachusetts.
USDA Permits are issued for servals to be kept in zoos and by educational facilities, according to Sue Ann Arnold, a breeder with Arnold’s Exotics in Okeechobee, Florida.
Ms. Arnold, who said she has about 20 servals and has been raising them for the past 13 years, described the animals as active cats that can move quickly, fare well on raw meat, and can grow to be about 50 pounds.
“They make their living by batting their food down so they are more likely to hit you before ever biting you,” she said, adding that servals are not usually aggressive toward people.
She said responsible breeders do not sell to unlicensed people because it means a life in hiding for the wild cat. A cat that cannot go outdoors, or be taken to the veterinarian for fear of confiscation, cannot experience a full life, she said.
According to Ms. Arnold, servals are among the most popular wild cats and that a cross breed of a serval, called a savannah, is also illegal to possess in Massachusetts except by zoos and educational institutions.
Neither Southwick Zoo in Mendon nor Roger Williams Zoo in Providence, R.I. has a serval in its animal population, according to zoo spokesmen at those facilities.
For the cats,
Carole Baskin, CEO of Big Cat Rescue
an Educational Sanctuary home
to more than 100 big cats
12802 Easy Street Tampa, FL 33625
813.493.4564 fax 885.4457
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