Monday, July 16, 2007

Serval found on the loose in Pennsylvania

By Sara Ganim -

Patton Township police are asking residents to look out for a wildcat on the loose near Julian Pike and state Route 550.

Sgt. Frank Monroe said officers received a report Friday night of a cheetah running across state Route 550, but the animal turned out to be a serval, a medium-sized wildcat native to Africa.

"This is weird -- very, very bizarre," Monroe said.

People should not be alarmed by the creature, according to Monroe, who said when police attempted to capture the serval Friday night, it was very passive.

The main concern is preventing anyone -- and the serval -- from getting hurt as the search continues.

"I don't want to see it get hit by a car, or someone stop on the highway and get hit by a car," Monroe said.

Police are seeking the owners of the serval, because the animal could not survive a central Pennsylvania winter, Monroe said. Police have posted fliers asking residents to be on the lookout for the animal.

Monroe described the animal as a very odd creature with very long legs and is twice the size of an average house cat. It weighs about 25 pounds and is 18 to 20 inches tall.

The Pennsylvania Game Commission requires licenses for people keeping servals in the state. The Game Commission has no licenses issued in Centre County, and Monroe said the serval could have wandered from another county.

Anyone with information about the serval is asked to contact Patton Township police at 234-0987.

Sara Ganim can be reached at 231-4616.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Tiger critically injures Texas zookeeper

Saturday , July 14, 2007

SAN ANTONIO -- A tiger at the San Antonio Zoo attacked a keeper Saturday, critically injuring the man, the zoo said.

The zookeeper was attacked about 2:30 p.m. in a nonpublic area by the tiger, said zoo spokeswoman Dawn Campos. The man was expected to recover, she said.

The zookeeper, who specializes in large cats, was flown to a hospital and was in critical condition, a hospital spokeswoman said. The keeper was in his 20s, Campos said.

The male Sumatran tiger was 4 or 5 years old, Campos said.

Campos said she did not know the extent of the zookeeper's injuries but said: "He was very, very fortunate. He's going to be fine."

The zoo was closed after the attack and was expected to reopen Sunday, Campos said. 2007/07/14/AR2007071401329.html

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Ark. man injured by declawed cougar kept as pet

Bulletin Staff Writer

A cougar kept as a pet injured the owner Friday morning, shortly before Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge personnel were to pick up the male cat and a female from an area south of Yellville.

Brent Marshall was taken to Baxter Regional Medical Center, where he was treated and released. He was cleaning out the pens of the declawed cats, Marion County Sheriff Carl McBee said.

"Marshall stated ... the male cat knocked him to the ground and began biting him on the back of the neck, head and leg," McBee said. "His wife, Anna, ran into the pen and pushed her fingernails in the cat's neck and made him retreat to the back of the pen. At this time she pulled her husband out of the pen and closed the door and then called 911."

The Marshalls had to give up the cougars because the sheriff in the county they were moving to would not give them permission to bring the big cats along, said Scott Smith, vice president of Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge.

A law was passed by the Arkansas legislature two years ago requiring the sheriff's approval before an exotic animal owner can move the animal into that county.

Tanya Smith, president of the refuge, and her husband, Scott, arrived in Marion County shortly after 8 a.m. Friday to pick up the cougars.

The male, Wishbone, and female, Sasha, are both about 5 1/2 years old, Scott Smith said.

That scenario has become more common over the last 25 years, Scott added.

Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge, near Eureka Springs, was started in 1992, Tanya Smith said. The Smiths have been to 17 states picking up big cats that need a home.

This year, the refuge has rescued six big cats within the state and one black bear from Hollister, Mo., Tanya said.

In addition to rescuing the two cougars Friday, the Smiths were in Yellville for an educational program. They brought an African serval with them to show to the 45 children and adults who arrived at the Marion County Library. The children and adults watched a short video explaining what Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge is before going outside to visit the African serval and two cougars, which were still tranquilized.

"It is very dangerous for people to have these animals for pets," Tanya Smith said.

"We are here at the Marion County Library today to educate people on what a big responsibility it is for any animal — but a big cat is really a big responsibility — not only could they possibly get themselves hurt, but they could also get their neighbor or a relative hurt by allowing them to go into the cages. It is not a good idea at all for anybody to get these types of animals for a pet."

With the two cougars, the refuge now will house 114 rescued big cats, she said. The refuge is also home to a monkey, six black bears, birds and deer.

The refuge has rescued mountain lions near Mountain Home and Ash Flat, and 11 big cats in Boone County, she said.

The nonprofit refuge is open to the public every day except Christmas.

"We think it is real important that people actually get to see what goes on at the refuge," Tanya Smith said. "We feed all the animals at 5 p.m."

The refuge also has hourly tours so people can see the animals in their habitat.

"Right now, we feed about 1,000 pounds of raw meat a day, so it is a big undertaking whenever you deal with this situation," Tanya Smith said.

The children craned their necks to see the animals and peppered the Smiths with questions.

One of the cougars woke up briefly and lifted its head to see what was going on, causing the children to get excited. The cat then put his head back down and went back to sleep.

Scott said they brought the African serval, Bowden, to show the children that even though it is a smaller animal, it is still a big and wild cat.

For more information about the refuge, you can visit its Web site: AID=/20070707/NEWS01/707070306/1002