An 11-month-old cougar illegally kept as a pet was removed by animal welfare officials in New York City.
Director of animal disaster response for the Humane Society of the United States, Kelly Donithan, said that the 80lb female cougar owner was surrendered on Thursday.
Officials said Sasha the cougar will be heading to the Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge in Arkansas after receiving veterinary care at the Bronx Zoo.
The NY Police department, the Humane Society, and the Department of Environmental Conservation coordinated the cougar’s removal.
“I’ve never seen a cougar in the wild, but I’ve seen them on leashes, smashed into cages, and crying for their mothers when breeders rip them away,” the Humane Society’s Donithan said.
Donithan said this cougar was relatively lucky because her owners, who live in the Bronx, recognized that a wild cat is not fit to live in an apartment and surrendered her.
An 80-pound cougar has been removed from a New York City apartment where she was being kept illegally as a pet, officials say. The cougar, nicknamed Sasha, is now headed to a wildlife refuge in Arkansas. https://t.co/hcov3wqvmt— The Associated Press (@AP) August 31, 2021
Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Basil Seggos said that while cougars “may look cute and cuddly when young, these animals can grow up to be unpredictable and dangerous.”
Bronx Zoo director Jim Breheny said the exotic pet trade does not contribute to the conservation of endangered species.
“These animals often end up in terrible situations, kept by private individuals who don’t have the resources, facilities, knowledge, or expertise to provide for the animals’ most basic needs,” Breheny said.