An 80-pound cougar was removed from a New York City apartment on Thursday, August 26. The 11-month-old, named Sasha, was surrendered after likely being held illegally.
Sasha spent the weekend at the Bronx Zoo where she received veterinary care and will now reside at the Turpentine Creek Refuse in Arkansas.
Kelly Donithan, director of animal disaster response for the Humane Society of the United States, who was on scene with the cougar and facilitated the transport, said, “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. I’ve also seen the heartbreak of owners, like in this case, after being sold not just a wild animal, but a false dream that they could make a good ‘pet.’ This cougar is relatively lucky that her owners recognized a wild cat is not fit to live in an apartment or any domestic environment. 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. We are thankful to the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation and everyone who was involved in dealing with this complex situation for helping make this rescue possible.”
New York increased its regulation of ownership of wild animals in 2020 and has long seen cases involving dangerous animals in private residences that threaten public safety.
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