Thank you for covering this story in a respectable manner. It is all too easy for the media to play to the ignorant masses with a sob story that is told from the wrong perspective. Hybrid cats suffer greatly as a result of the pet trade. They are even more emotionally scarred by their captivity than their wilder cousins because they are so confused about who they are. More about that here and all of the physical ailments they have as a result of their un natural lineage:
Most people can't tell a serval from a cheetah and breeders often sell servals and call them Savannahs, because servals are easier to breed and they and the buyers are counting on the authorities not being able to tell the difference between an illegal wild cat and (in most states) a legal hybrid.
The following is a partial listing (568) of incidents in the U.S. involving captive exotic cats since 1990. The U.S. incidents have resulted in the deaths of 21 humans, 16 adults and 5 children, the additional mauling of 188 more adults and children, 162 escapes, the killing of 89 big cats, and 120 confiscations. There have also been 172 big cat incidents outside the U.S. that have resulted in the deaths of 63 humans and the mauling of 94 humans by captive big cats. These figures only represent the headlines that Big Cat Rescue has been able to track. Because there is no reporting agency that keeps such records the actual numbers are certainly much higher. http://bigcatrescue.org/big_cat_news.htm
This link will tell you about how exotic animals spread disease and threaten local eco systems:
Alaska should be proud that they have such good laws to protect their native wildlife and their citizens. It is the only humane thing to do.
For the cats,
Carole Baskin, CEO of Big Cat Rescue
an Educational Sanctuary home
to more than 100 big cats
12802 Easy Street Tampa, FL 33625
813.493.4564 fax 885.4457
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Recaptured exotic cat must be shipped Outside
ILLEGAL: Serval mix showed it can survive on the loose in wild.
By JAMES HALPIN
Not two weeks after Simon the Savannah cat was scooped up in a dipnet
and reunited with his owner, the Alaska Department of Fish and Game,
which organized the reunion, is demanding that Sharon Gratrix get rid
of her exotic pet.
The spotted cat is only a quarter serval mixed with a domestic house
cat, but it turns out servals — small African wildcats — are not
allowed in Alaska in any ratio. In a letter Gratrix received Monday,
Anchorage wildlife biologist Rick Sinnott explains that the animal is
in fact illegal — contrary to what biologists first told her — and
that she has one month to send Simon elsewhere on a one-way ticket.
"I realize this may be a shock to you, having only recently been
reunited with your cat," Sinnott says in the letter. "However, we
cannot allow animals prohibited by law to remain in the state."
Simon bolted out the door of his home near Kincaid Park and was on
the run for six months before being snared along the Glenn Highway
Nov. 7. With a broken tail, Simon was malnourished, in shock and
probably wouldn't have survived much longer, Gratrix said. Now, as
Simon readjusts to domestic life and begins recovering, the thrill of
the unlikely reunion has been snuffed.
"I am heartbroken. … It never occurred to me that there could be
anything illegal about having this cat," Gratrix said. "I don't think
it's unreasonable that I would not have known; (Fish and Game) didn't
know when they returned him to me."
Though servals are banned in Alaska, Sinnott initially said Savannah
cats appeared to be legal. But state wildlife experts reviewed the
case and concluded otherwise.
State law prohibits Fish and Game from issuing permits for hybrids of
a game animal to be kept as a pet. Under the law, game animals are
defined in part as nondomestic mammals "found or introduced" in
"My initial confusion was well, if this Savannah cat is a hybrid of a
serval — an African wild animal — and a domestic cat, then servals
aren't found in Alaska, so therefore it's not an animal that's found
or introduced in Alaska," Sinnott said.
But bringing a Savannah cat into Alaska, even as a pet, constitutes
introducing it here, said Kevin Saxby, an assistant attorney general
specializing in wildlife law. Fish and Game has no discretion to
allow exceptions because the department cannot, by law, issue a
permit for such an animal to be kept as a pet, he said.
One can request the state Board of Game put an animal, like a
Savannah cat, on the "clean list" of allowable animals, and Gratrix
says she plans to do it. But the board heard and rejected a request a
few years back to allow servals because of concern they could
threaten indigenous wildlife, either through predation or disease,
"The board has a general policy on all exotic species that they can
only be allowed here if they can't survive in the wild and if they
don't otherwise represent a threat to Alaskan species," Saxby
said. "As we found out, servals can escape and survive in the wild in
Alaska, and they're a threat to Alaskan wildlife."
Gratrix has 30 days to provide Fish and Game with proof Simon is gone
or she could be hit with a $250 fine. She said she plans to ship
Simon down to live in exile with her daughter in Arizona until,
hopefully, she can change the law, which also makes one of her
previous pets illegal: the Bengal cat, a hybrid of an Asian leopard
cat and domestic cat.
Since that cat stopped coming home in June 2007 and never was found,
despite a high-profile search involving bus-side posters, there are
no plans to cite her for that pet, Sinnott said. However, there may
still be others to deal with.
"(Gratrix) said there's probably 100 or more Bengal cats in town,"
Sinnott said. "They've even been shown in shows. She says even that
there's a judge in town that has one. I wouldn't know about that, but
this could go bigger than we ever envisioned."
Find James Halpin online at adn.com/contact/jhalpin or call him at