World Animal Protection Program Manager Kelly Donithan did not spend Independence Day 2018 celebrating our country’s freedoms. It was spent planning freedom for 7 exotic cats from a home in Buffalo, NY where they were being illegally sold for profit.
Falsely marketed as “pets”, 4 Servals, 2 Caracals and an F1 Savannah cat, were thankfully rescued from the residence.
Although the native African serval and caracal felines are only 2-6 months old, both species can weigh in at 40 pounds when they reach adulthood! The savannah cat, a cross-breed between a serval and a domestic cat, is about 3 years old and can grow to weigh 25 pounds.
Servals require special diets and need to expel their energies in a large area where they can hunt and climb, run and swim. Very rarely are owners able to provide adequate living enclosures for these cats outside of a sanctuary. By keeping these wild animals as “house pets”, it is a disservice to their natural animal instincts. One instinct you will NOT be able to control is their need to mark their territory, leading to many of these beautiful animals being discarded when they can’t be “controlled”.
The same can be said for caracals, needing more than civilians can adequately provide for them. In the wild, these cats are normally solitary animals and can extend their territories to cover up to 30 square miles! Now imagine a private residence that this cat would be happy living in…it’s not likely!
Savannah cats are ranked at levels ranging from F1-F6. These represent the genetic influence of the pure-blood African feline present in the cat. F1 Savannah cats are the most wild like their serval relatives, and sadly F1-F3 are usually kept by breeders to procreate. This may have been the case here with the 3 year old male. Devastatingly, he was also found to be declawed on all 4 paws so he will need to be monitored for pain and any complications that can arise from this.
Happily, for these few fortunate felines, they were destined for a better life; One where they can get the care and freedom they deserve!
Working with 2 wildlife refuges and numerous law enforcement agencies, World Animal Protection Program arranged transport and permanent housing for the cats. At the Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge in Arkansas and Safe Haven Wildlife Sanctuary in Nevada, teams readied their facilities in preparation for the saved cats arrivals.
After a preliminary veterinarian check, all the cats were found to be malnourished and one of the male serval infants had to be put on an emergency IV. His instinct to survive was strong though, and he made it through the scary moments successfully.
Staff from Turpentine Creek would transport all 7 felines to their sanctuary and then from there, Safe Haven members would meet them to transport the animals under their care. Turpentine Creek would be the fur-ever home for the 2 young male servals and the male savannah cat. The other 2 servals, both female, and the 2 caracals, 1 male and 1 female, would continue on to Safe Haven.
On July 6th, the cats arrived at Turpentine Creek in Arkansas and took some well deserved time to stretch their muscles after the 18 hour car ride. *Note – you drive VERY carefully with wild animals in the car! The last thing the tortured souls need to experience is an accident, not to mention it’d be quite a shock to highway patrol and commuters!
Veterinarians at the refuge were sure to keep an eye on the rescues. Due to the neglectful conditions they had been living in, both young male servals were underweight, experiencing lethargy and diarrhea. Long-term care plans were made and nutritious meals gratefully gobbled up. They will stay quarantined until their health improves.
The little boys were sadly showing some symptoms of metabolic bone disease and the tiny feline who had fought for his life initially, was still battling an infection. Staff at Turpentine Creek were sure to let their fans know they’ll keep them updated on the infants health as their vet watches over them. As of July 14th, they were in good spirits, jumping and pouncing like little “big” cats should. They haven’t been named as-of yet however F1 Savannah Cat, “Tigger”, will keep the name he’s known for his short confined life.
As the new Turpentine Creek rescues transition into their new lives, the remaining 2 servals and 2 caracals were off to their fur-ever home at Safe Haven. A caretaker and intern were more than willing to make the drive with the 4 precious babies.
At Safe Haven, to raise funds for the care of the cats, they are holding an auction to name the 2 servals and the male caracal. The staff got to name the female caracal, choosing the name “Sorcha”, a Gaelic feminine name meaning “brightness”.
They now are happily enjoying their outdoor enclosures, filled with purrfectly catty items like comfy straw bedding, toys and even a “kitty” pool!
Because this is still an ongoing investigation, neither wildlife refuge can provide more details right now, but we’re so very happy to see these stunning cats in habitats more suited to their wild needs; outdoor, free and happy! Be sure to follow both groups on their Facebook pages for updates.
If you would like to donate to Turpentine Creek, please visit them here:https://www.turpentinecreek.org/support-us/donate/
If you would like to donate to Safe Haven, follow this link: https://safehavenwildlife.com/donate/donate-online/