African wildcat caught in New Orleans neighborhood
February 19, 2009
NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Zoo veterinarians caught a 22-pound African wildcat in Uptown New Orleans, not far from the home of a man who was taken to court last year for keeping a similar animal at his home.
The serval caught Tuesday was being held in quarantine at the Audubon Zoo. Curator Rick Dietz said it will be moved to a wildlife center run by the zoo’s parent foundation if no one claims it.
The cat was found on the loose in a yard several blocks from the home of a man who was told last year he couldn’t keep a serval at his home because of a New Orleans ordinance against owning wild animals. A judge ordered Wayne del Corral to take his cat to nearby Tangipahoa Parish — which doesn’t have such an ordinance — last year after it was found roaming.
Del Corral said the cat found this week isn’t his. He said Wednesday that his own serval escaped more than four months ago in Hammond. "Unless that cat had a little homing device," it couldn’t have wound up back in the neighborhood, he said.
However, Dietz says its age, sex, condition, generally calm temperament — and the fact that all four feet were declawed — are "eerily similar" to the animal caught last year in the same area.
"We have our suspicions, yes," he said.
Servals generally eat frogs, birds and other small animals.
Heidi Heyns, 48, who lives nearby, said she saw a woman carrying a bag of raw meat and looking under houses in the area several days ago. The woman didn’t give any contact information but said she was looking for a lost cat, Heyns said.
"She described it as looking like a cheetah," Heyns said. "She said not to approach it, that it might not be real friendly."
Learn more about big cats and Big Cat Rescue at http://www.bigcatrescue.org