Earlier this month, a total of seven exotic wildcats, including one who nearly died, were rescued from an illegal pet trader in New York.
World Animal Protection
The four baby servals, two baby caracals, and one Savannah cat (a popular exotic cat hybrid) were rescued from a house in Buffalo. They were found to be suffering from malnutrition and abuse for the majority of their short lives, ranging from 2 to 6 months old.
One of the four serval kittens, named Sammy, was critically ill and was given immediate subcutaneous fluids to survive.
World Animal Protection
Thanks to the valiant efforts of the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) and the World Animal Protection organization, all 7 of the exotic kittens all made it safely out of the home. The young felines were taken to two different animal sanctuaries: Safe Haven Wildlife Sanctuary in Nevada and the Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge in Arkansas. The lucky youngsters will stay in their new sanctuaries, which include appropriate and healthy environments for these special cats.
Unfortunately, the Savannah cat was declawed, an inhumane procedure in which the claws are removed from a cat; in some procedures, declawing would be the same as cutting off each finger at the last knuckle. Savannah cats are a hybrid of a serval and a domestic cat. But Savannah cats are not domesticated cats and still have powerful wild instincts and often have behavioral issues that cause their "owners" to delcaw them to prevent from getting attacked.
Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge in Arkansas
After being kept in a residence, these wildcats can look forward to a healthy, suitable environment that meets their each and every need - as best as living in an enclosure can do for a wild animal, anyway.
“These young wild cats are prolific hunters and can jump up to 20 feet in the air. Removing them from their natural environment and subjecting them to a life as a domestic pet is cruel and dangerous. Their size and natural instincts create a hazardous situation for those who encounter them, especially small animals and children,” said Alesia Soltanpanah, Executive Director, World Animal Protection U.S to People Pets.
“World Animal Protection was glad we could do this emergency rescue to bring attention to the plight of exotic pets and their mistreatment in the U.S.," Soltanpanah continued. "These cats were suffering from severe malnutrition and near death due to the ignorance of the person that was holding them, allegedly intending to profit from their sale.”
According to World Animal Protection, exotic pet laws and regulations vary by state, however, both servals and caracals are illegal to possess and sell as pets in New York. The possession, sale, barter, transfer, exchange, and import of wild animals as pets is strictly prohibited in New York under NYS Environmental Conservation Law 11-0512.
"Each year, millions of animals are poached or farmed and sold into the exotic pet trade. Whether the trade is legal or illegal, these animals suffer terribly," writes WAP. "A life in captivity limits an "exotic pet’s" natural behaviour and places both their physiological and psychological well-being at risk."
Animals kept as exotic pets are often deprived of adequate shelter, enrichment, food, space to roam and proper regulation of their body temperature. Even if they are rescued, it is often too late to be able to successfully rehabilitate an animal kept as a pet as they would not survive in the wild.
What can you do to help end the exotic pet trade? Check out our Podcast interview with Carole Baskin, CEO of Big Cat Rescue, the spearhead behind the Big Cat Act. The Big Cat Act is a federal bill that would end the private possession of big cats as pets and end cub petting.