An 11-month-old cougar was removed from a Nueva York City apartment where it was being illegally kept as a pet, animal welfare officials said.
The owners of the 79lb (36kg) female surrendered the animal last Thursday, dicho Kelly Donithan, director of animal disaster response for the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS).
The cougar, named Sasha, was taken to the Bronx Zoo for veterinary treatment. El lunes, officials transported it to the Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge in Arkansas, where it will receive lifelong care.
HSUS coordinated the removal with zoo officials, New York police and the New York state department of environmental conservation. The New York police commissioner, Dermot Shea, dicho the case was under investigation.
Donithan was on scene with the cougar and facilitated transport.
“I’ve never seen a cougar in the wild," ella dijo, “But I’ve seen them on leashes, smashed into cages and crying for their mothers when breeders rip them away.”
According to Donithan, the cougar’s Bronx-based owners realized a wild animal was not fit to live in an apartment and called for help.
“The owner’s tears and nervous chirps from the cougar as we drove her away painfully drives home the many victims of this horrendous trade and myth that wild animals belong anywhere but the wild,” Donithan said.
It was not the first time a wild cat wound up in a New York apartment. En 2001, Antoine Yates, a 31-year-old construction worker, brought an eight-week-old tiger cub into his home in a Harlem housing project.
After eating 20lb of chicken thighs a day for two years, the cub, named Ming, grew into a 423lb adult Siberian-Bengal tiger. En 2003, authorities removed the animal from Yates’s apartment, along with a 5ft (1.5m) alligator named Al kept in a fiberglass tank.
Yates was arrested and sentenced to five months in prison for reckless endangerment. Ming died in 2019, at the Noah’s Lost Ark Exotic Animal Rescue Center in Ohio.
Speaking about the cougar found in the Bronx, Jim Breheny, director of the Bronx Zoo, said the exotic pet trade does not contribute to the conservation of endangered species.
“These animals often end up in very bad situations, kept by private individuals who don’t have the resources, facilities, knowledge or expertise to provide for the animals’ most basic needs," él dijo.