Declawed serval is on the loose in North Texas

Wildcat on the loose in Collin County
Nov. 27, 2009, 7:24PM

McKINNEY — North Texas authorities are looking for a wildcat and want the public’s help.

The serval is a medium-sized African animal that resembles a cheetah with large ears. It was last seen in the Collin County town of St. Paul.

The cat has been declawed and is not believed to pose a danger. But Collin County officials warn that it is a wild animal by nature and may act aggressively if it feels threatened.

Anyone who spots the cat should call 911 immediately, and not try to capture or restrain it.

The missing serval is approximately 40 pounds, is orange with black spots, and had on a black collar and a red harness.


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"Pet" tigers, serval coming to Florida’s DeSoto County

Siberian tigers coming to DeSoto County

Published on: Thursday, November 26, 2009

DESOTO COUNTY — Siberian Tigers will soon be at home in DeSoto County.

The County Commission Tuesday unanimously approved a development plan for cages and fencing in compliance with Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission to house three Siberian Tigers and an African Serval (a small cat species native to Africa). The property is located at 5998 S.W. Smith Ave., approximately one mile south of County Road 760A.

Zelph Ridgeway, the agent for property owner Elita Bozeman, told the commission the animals were for personal use only and are pets. The development plan does not include accommodations for customers or visitors.

Ridgeway said he was familiar with all the requirements and what the zoning allows. “I have licenses for many animals,” he said. “I’ve had licenses in Charlotte County since 1994. I also currently hold a license for the Sarasota Jungle Gardens for all their animals. So this is not new to me. I’ve had animals my whole life. I’ve had animals over 30 years from chimpanzees to tigers. I’m really strong on the issue of licensing. That’s what makes it work.”

[text regarding additional issues heard by County Commission has been deleted]


Staff Writer


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Serval, ocelot on "Larry King Live" on CNN

NOTE: Jack Hanna was the guest on 11/25. This is the preliminary transcript, so there are some typos (like “servo” instead of “serval”).

“KING: And one more in this segment, and it’s a servo, am I pronouncing that right?

HANNA: Right, servo cat.

KING: I wouldn’t let him come near me.

HANNA: This is a servo cat from Mohr Park College here in California. Larry, this is a servo cat from Africa. You don’t see these cats very often. This cat was found up in Egypt.

If you ever watched “Discovery” or “National Geographic,” you’ll see the servo cat drawn on their mummies or the pyramids inside. It was a very regal animal. It’s one of the few cats in the world that can jump and catch a bird in free flight. They can jump up in the air six or eight feet and grab a bird flying buy. Isn’t it magnificent?

KING: “Magnificent” is the right word.

HANNA: Look at the back of the ears. You see those ears? Those are called eye spots. If this cat is eating something, and let’s say a hyena or something was going to come up and take it from it, it would think that the cat is looking backwards.

KING: Nature builds all things into these animals.

HANNA: Exactly. The legs are different lengths. The front and hind legs — you see the back legs?

KING: It gives spring.

HANNA: Exactly, jump up and catch the birds.

KING: Great.”

[text deleted]

“KING: We’re in the rain forest with Jack Hanna on “LARRY KING LIVE,” and a hungry ocelot.

HANNA: Larry, you may have heard about the ocelot.

KING: It smells a little weird.

HANNA: It’s a urine smell that they have to mark their territory, that type of thing. The ocelots were sold in the ’60s as a lot of pets. All spotted cats now are in danger, the ocelot now is endangered where it was in the ’60s and ’70s, it wasn’t in the ’80s.

KING: Is its coat wanted?

HANNA: Exactly. Larry, look at the magnificent collar of that coat. Absolutely gorgeous. You can see obviously why people hunted the animals. Now, obviously, coats, they can now make these fake furs, which is much, much better on everybody.

Ocelots, Larry, you smell that odor. That’s how they mark the territory. The ocelot is nocturnal. The ocelot is notorious for finding birds and stuff at night. And this cat, Larry, could walk by you and six inches from where you’re sleeping, you’ll never see this animal. And even to see one in the wild, Larry — I’ve only seen them twice maybe in all of my years in central and south America.

They’re difficult to find right now. They’re a solitary cat. They’re not a social cart, like a lion. They’re a solitary cat. They’re one that really represents the jungle. Like the jaguar for example in South America, Central America, the ocelot is next down….”


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The rise of the supercat

The rise of the supercat

In our “bigger-is-better,” super-size-me society, it may not come as much of a surprise that demand for designer “supercats” — domestic breeds crossed with larger, exotic African or South American wildcats — is surging skyward.

In the United Kingdom, breeders are reporting up to six-month waiting lists for new kittens, despite price tags upwards of 6,000 pounds (more than US$9,500)!
According to the Dangerous Wild Animals Act, first generation supercats must be licensed and kept in outdoor cages in the United Kingdom. Subsequent generations can be kept as normal pets.

The Savannah breed is the most popular of the supercats. They are bred from a serval, a cheetah-like wildcat found in Africa. But animal welfare groups warn that the larger size (they can grow up to 35 pounds compared with around 10 pounds for a typical domestic house cat), increased agility (they can jump seven feet vertically) and inherent “wildness” of feline hybrids means they could pose a danger to other pets and even small children. Their paws and fangs are bigger and they are stronger so they have the potential to do a lot more damage than a normal domestic cat.

But the Savannah Cat Club of Great Britain insists that they are suitable pets. (Britain estimates to have around 300 Savannahs currently living there.) Club President Donna Peynado claims, “There are no more safety concerns than for any other breeds,” adding, “We always advise never ever leave a cat alone with a child under five.”

These exotic cats are currently banned in Australia, where there are concerns that they could have a huge impact on native wildlife, such as birds and koalas. They are also banned in some U.S. states, including New York, although most states regard the Savannah as a domestic cat (which is in accordance with federal and United States Department of Agriculture recommendations). Alaska, Iowa, Hawaii, Massachusetts and Georgia all restrict ownership of hybrid cats. Cross-bred animals are usually sterile, but U.S. breeders have successfully created long lineages of the Savannah, with the intent of keeping them as serval-like as possible.
Other supercats include the Safari cat, a cross with the South American Geoffroy’s cat, and the Caracat, a 30-pound descendant of the Caracal, a lynx-like wildcat found in the Middle East and Africa (which was then crossbred with an Abyssinian domestic cat).

Posted By: Amelia Glynn (Email) October 13 2009 at 02:58 PM


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‘African Serval’ cat found in Tucson neighborhood

Posted: Sep 24, 2009 9:09 PM EDT
Updated: Sep 24, 2009 10:15 PM EDT

TUCSON, AZ (KOLD) – People outside a Catalina Foothills home couldn’t believe their eyes.

They thought the big cat looked like an ocelot, which is unheard of in the wild in Arizona.

It turns out, they did see something downright rare.

A serval that’s native to Africa.

A man was driving through a Catalina Foothills neighborhood, Wednesday night, and suddenly he spotted it.

Fred Thomas says he knew immediately it was not indigenous to Arizona.

Thomas says it had beautiful spots and looked like a cheetah.

The animal ended up near a mailbox.

Thomas says he thought was sick or hurt.

He called 911.

The serval is at the Tucson Wildlife Center, a non-profit sanctuary and rehabilitation center.

One of the center’s rehabilitators got the call to go out to the neighborhood.

Lisa Bates-Lininger is founding president of the Tucson Wildlife Center.

She says they had to tranquilize the big cat

“She could still move and attack and she was really upset with the people around her. So we did tranquilize her and we found nothing wrong with her major,” Bates-Lininger says.

But the serval was in bad shape.

“She was dehydrated and tired and just ready to give up. She may have died last night, but luckily we got her in. We got her emergency treatment, fluids for shock,” Bates-Lininger says.

The animal’s feet were very sore.

She’s also missing a rear leg.

It had been surgically removed.

“This is obviously an escaped pet because it’s an exotic cat. She was in really good condition. Whoever had her loved her and took good care of her,” Bates-Lininger says.

If it is a purebred serval, the owner would need a permit to have it in Arizona.

The Arizona Game and Fish Department says servals are brought into the United States to breed with domestic cats, and create the Savannah cat.

In Arizona you don’t need a permit for a hybrid, even if it’s first generation.

“So we hope that the owner can find us and we can get this cat back to the owner,” Bates-Lininger.

If the owner can’t be found, the serval’s future is uncertain.

Bates-Lininger says the Tucson Wildlife Center can’t keep it.

She says the center keeps only native species of animals that cannot be released back into the wild.

Bates-Lininger says she believes people should not keep exotic pets, that they belong in the wild.

But she also says sanctuary-type homes that care for an animal can be a good thing.

Game and Fish Game Ranger Mike Pastirik says, like Bates-Lininger, the department prefers people not own exotic animals.

He says it’s primarily out of concern for public safety and for humane reasons.

He says the department is concerned about the welfare of the animals.


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