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Serval found caged behind empty house in So. Cal.

10:00 PM PDT on Wednesday, July 18, 2007

By DAVID RACLIN
The Press-Enterprise

An African wildcat was found Wednesday caged behind an empty Norco home north of Corona’s Rock Vista Park, animal control officials said.

The serval, which looks like a small cheetah, was located about 5:30 p.m. behind the home at 1457 Paso Fino Place near Valley Drive, Norco Animal Control superintendent Renee Power said.

It appeared that no one had been at the home for several days, Power said. The serval was taken into custody by Animal Control.

“We’ll be meeting with Fish and Game and the animal’s owner (today),” Power said. The California Department of Fish and Game regulates trade in exotic animals.

Servals normally weigh between 20 and 45 pounds, and reach lengths of up to 4 1/2 feet, including the tail. It is normally found in central and southern Africa.

A man who identified himself as Paul, the owner of the house, answered the phone number listed on the for sale sign at the home.

He said he owned the serval and that there had been a misunderstanding, and he looked forward to getting the animal back.

Power said the owner did not have authorization from her agency to possess the animal in Norco.

Reach David Raclin at 951-368-9466 or draclin@PE.com