By Adriana Diaz For Dailymail.Com
An eighty-pound cougar raised in a New York City apartment was surrendered to police and taken to the Bronx Zoo on Thursday night before being transported to a sanctuary in Arkansas.
The nearly 80-pound female cougar named Sasha was raised in a Bronx apartment for the past 11 months after being purchased out of state as a young cub.
Authorities were made aware of the illegal pet by her owner who contacted the sanctuary after it began showing signs of aggression.
Officials have not named the pet’s owner, who is currently under investigation and may face charges.
The rescue of the animal was a joint effort between the Humane Society of the United States, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, NYPD and the Bronx Zoo.
Sasha, a nearly 80-pound female cougar was removed from a Bronx apartment on Thursday
She was taken to the Bronx Zoo where she underwent medical examinations over the weekend
The big cat was transported to Turpentine Creek Wildlife Rescue in Arkansas on Monday
Sasha will live at the Arkansas sanctuary for the remainder of her days being taken care of by professional animal handlers
Sasha began her journey to Turpentine Creek in Arkansas on Monday afternoon after passing an initial medical examination at the Bronx Zoo over the weekend.
‘I’ve never seen a cougar in the wild, but I’ve seen them on leashes, smashed into cages, and crying for their mothers when breeders rip them away,’ Kelly Donithan, director of animal disaster response for the Humane Society, said in a statement.
‘I’ve also seen the heartbreak of owners, like in this case, after being sold not just a wild animal, but a false dream that they could make a good ‘pet.”
The Humane Society director continued, ‘The owner’s tears and nervous chirps from the cougar as we drove her away painfully drives home the many victims of this horrendous trade and myth that wild animals belong anywhere but the wild.’
Authorities were alerted to the illegal pet by her unidentified owner after she began exhibiting signs of aggression
Sasha was kept in a Bronx apartment for 11 months after being purchased out of state
Her previous owner is currently under investigation and may face charges for raising the illegal pet
The retrieval of the dangerous pet has activist calling for the federal government to pass the Big Cat Public Safety Act
Humane Society Legislative Fund president, Sara Amundson, said ‘The sad situation from which Sasha is being rescued is a textbook example of why Congress must, once and for all, pass the Big Cat Public Safety Act’
While the idea of a big cat being hidden as a pet in a New York apartment is shocking, the state has seen several dangerous and notable cases involving illegal pets.
In 2003 a 400-pound tiger named Ming was removed from an apartment in Harlem.
The next year a child was attacked by his fathers pet leopard in their Suffolk County home.
In New York City it is illegal to ‘sell or give to another person, possess, harbor, keep, or yard wild or other animals,’ excluding certified establishments such as zoos or circuses according to Article 161 of the Health Code: Animals.
The long list of illegal animals is included in several pages of the document including ‘lion, tiger, leopard, ocelot, jaguar, puma, panther, mountain lion, cheetah, wild cat, cougar, bobcat, lynx, serval, caracal, jaguarundi, margay and any hybrid or cross-breed offspring of a wild cat and domesticated or other cat.’
According to the New York City site, people ‘will not receive a violation for dropping off an illegal animal’ however ‘the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH) issues violations when appropriate.’
You can be charged with a misdemeanor in New York to mistreat a domestic or wild animal.
Humane Society Legislative Fund president, Sara Amundson, ‘A majestic species native to the United States and much of the Americas, cougars thrive in their natural habitats, not in a city home. Individuals and unqualified entities simply cannot meet these wild animals’ complex needs.’
‘The sad situation from which Sasha is being rescued is a textbook example of why Congress must, once and for all, pass the Big Cat Public Safety Act.’
The Big Cat Public Safety Act would update the laws regarding the trade of big cats specifically focusing on the possession and exhibition of the animals.
It was introduced by Illinois Rep. Mike Quigley in 2019. The Act was passed by the House of Representatives in 2020 and was received in the Senate where it was referred to the Committee on Environment and Public Works.
Published by Associated Newspapers Ltd
Part of the Daily Mail, The Mail on Sunday & Metro Media Group
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