Escaped "pet" serval found in Alabama

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Missing wildcat found at its former home in Tarrant
Friday, October 17, 2008
KIM BRYAN News staff writer
Tiger the wildcat gave quite a wake-up call in Tarrant just minutes before 5 a.m. Thursday.
A resident spotted the exotic cat, a serval, inside a fenced area and called the Tarrant police, said Chief Jesse Sprayberry.
Officers, with help from Birmingham police, located the serval’s owners. Patrick and Jana DeLeersnyder of Birmingham used to live in Tarrant, Sprayberry said.
The DeLeersnyders’ pet went missing a couple of weeks ago and apparently found the way back to its former digs, Sprayberry said. The medium-sized cat – an uncommon sight in the east Birmingham hamlet – would be in more familiar surroundings on African plains.
“The thing can be aggressive and charged a couple of times, probably just being in unfamiliar territory,” Sprayberry said. “I would have been a little apprehensive to respond to that call. Yes, it was my first encounter with a cat. I’m glad it (Tiger) didn’t harm anyone or cause any danger.”
Tiger’s owners scurried to Tarrant and coaxed the frightened, golden-and-black cat with extra-large ears into a cage, officials said.
Efforts to reach the DeLeersnyders were unsuccessful Thursday.
Sprayberry does not anticipate they will be cited for any violation, but plans to check with a game warden about guidelines for cats under 90 pounds, he said.
Sandra Allinson of the Alabama Wildlife Center, though not familiar with the species, had a couple of concerns.
“Non-native wildlife released in our environment have a negative impact on our native wildlife population,” said Allinson, director of rehabilitation and education at the center. “They aren’t equipped to deal with such predators.”
But Allinson said the cat faced danger as well on its own in this environment, where it is likely not equipped to survive.
“Give the little guy credit for that,” she said.
Tiger appeared to be healthy, and the DeLeersnyders were happy to have found their pet, Sprayberry said.
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