Wild cat rescue: we help liberate four servals and two caracals in desperate need


This wild animal rescue demonstrates the widespread dangers of the exotic pet trade in America

As millions of Americans were celebrating the Fourth of July, our US team was meeting with sanctuary staff and New York State officials to prepare for an early morning seizure of four servals and two caracals, approximately two to six months old. Native to Africa, these wild cats were being kept by an individual who allegedly intended to sell them illegally as pets.

Also rescued was a three-year-old savannah cat, a hybrid species ususally bred from wild servals and domesticated cats.

On July 5, the wild cats were rescued, provided with emergency veterinary care, and safely transported to two different sanctuaries which they can now call home.


Our program manager Kelly Donithan prepares Enzo for life-saving veterinary care

The cats' health

All the cats were suffering from malnutrition, and one of the baby male servals needed an emergency fluids to survive.

Alesia Soltanpanah, executive director, World Animal Protection US said: "We were glad we could do this emergency rescue to bring attention to the plight of exotic pets and their mistreatment in the US. These cats were suffering from severe malnutrition and were near death due to the ignorance of the person that was holding them, allegedly intending to profit from their sale."

"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."

The savannah cat had been declawed, an inhumane practice which can cause lasting physical problems.


Tiffany, a young serval, was one of seven wild cats rescued from a home in upstate New York where the possession of these cats is illegal

In the wild

Servals are native to Africa. Their sensitive hearing allows them to locate small mammals moving through grass. The caracal is a medium-sized wild cat native to Africa, the Middle East, Central Asia and India, and can also weigh up to 18 kilos.

Both species are known to leap high in the air to grab birds, and are very good hunters. They're also both solitary, and are more active at night.

Neither of the amazing wild cat species, nor any wild animal, should be considered pets. 

The exotic pet problem

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. A life in captivity limits an exotic pet’s natural behaviour and places both their physiological and psychological well-being at risk. They are often deprived of adequate shelter, food, room to roam and proper regulation of their body temperature.

Wild animals belong in the wild.

Learn more about our work protecting animals in the tourism industry.

Top image: wild caracal cats like Kiki are native to Africa, and are known for their distinctive ears and ability to leap high in the air to grab birds.

We were glad we could do this emergency rescue to bring attention to the plight of exotic pets and their mistreatment in the US.

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