Escaped Serval Found in Tyrone Twp MI

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Escaped Serval Found in Tyrone Twp MI

Serval Photo by Big Cat Rescue

Serval Photo by Big Cat Rescue

TYRONE TOWNSHIP, Mich. The Livingston County Sheriff’s Office said an African wild cat has been found in Tyrone Township.WHMI-FM reported that the cat, known as a serval, was captured after someone called 911 to report it.County officials said the cat appears to have been domesticated.

It could be placed in a zoo.


A wild exotic cat was captured north of Hartland over the weekend and the director of Livingston County Animal Control says it’s likely headed for a zoo unless its owner steps forward.

Debbie Oberle, director of animal control, said the 35-pound female African serval cat was ensared along Hogan Road in Tyrone Township just before midnight Sunday after a 911 caller spotted the animal. An animal control officer used a catch pole and was assisted by the Livingston County Sheriff’s Department, she said.

“She put up quite a fuss,” she said.

Oberle said the cat will likely end up at Binder Park Zoo in Battle Creek if its owner doesn’t come forward within four days as required under law.

Oberle said her staff can’t recall another encounter with such an animal that’s native to Africa but increasingly being bred and domesticated around the United States.

She said the agency spent Monday consulting with area zoos and state officials about what type of animal it exactly was and what to do with it. Animal control is set up to handle typical domesticated dogs and cats and seeks help when confronted with other animals such as bears, coyotes or those not native to Michigan.

“We don’t deal with exotic pets,” Oberle said. “It’s not a tame animal. … We don’t have the raw meat to feed her.”

But unlike other exotic animals, serval cats are typically a domesticated breed and do not need to be registered with local authorities and microchipped like a cougar, African lion or leopard, said Steve Halstead, Michigan’s veterarian at the state Department of Agriculture.

It looks “like a wild cat, but behaves like a domestic cat,” he said.

Whatever its origin, Cindy Finelli of Tyrone Township, spotted what appears to be the same animal Thursday off Faussett Road east of U.S. 23 at about 8 p.m. Finelli, who was driving to pick up her teenage son who was playing basketball, took pictures that she submitted to Hartland Patch. (See accompanying photos).

“I’ve never seen anything like it and no one has ever run across anything like it in the neighborhood,” said Finelli, 46, who lives nearby with her family in the mostly rural area.

“I’m glad they captured it. I hope they find a home for it.”

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