Serval on the loose in California County
A California county’s residents reported many sightings of an odd runaway animal in the area: an African serval.
Kristi Clark of Olivenhain said she initially had no idea what the bizarre critter she saw in her backyard last week was.
Clark told KFMB-TV, “I mean your first instinct is, is that a leopard? Did the zoo lose an animal or Wild Animal Park or something?”
“None of us knew what it was at the time.”
Clark’s neighbor photographed the animal, which was eventually identified as an African serval, a type of wild cat that looks like a miniature leopard. Servals are not lawful to own in California unless a permit is obtained.
North County residents reported multiple further sightings of the animal.
Emily Schultz said her husband and his mother bought the serval, named Pharaoh, four years ago. She claimed they were told the feline was a Savannah cat, a cross between a serval and a domestic cat, at the time.
Schultz stated that she and her husband have been caring for Pharaoh since his mother’s death, but the cat fled on August 7. She stated that her family recognizes that if Pharaoh is apprehended and found to be a full-blooded serval, he may be seized by the authorities, but they remain hopeful that the cat will be located.
Bruce Ireland, a former sheriff’s search and rescue officer who now works part-time removing snakes from properties, said state wildlife officials have given him permission to set a trap for the serval.
He said, “I’ll do whatever I can to find this cat because it certainly doesn’t belong in nature.”
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