Owner Gives up Illegal Pet Cougar

This photo provided by New York’s Bronx Zoo shows an 11-month-old, 80-pound cougar that was removed from an apartment, in the Bronx borough of New York, where she was being kept illegally as a pet, animal welfare officials said Monday, Aug. 30, 2021. The cougar, nicknamed Sasha, spent the weekend at the Bronx Zoo receiving veterinary care and is now headed to the Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge in Arkansas, officials said. (Courtesy of The Bronx Zoo via AP)

The owner of an 11-month-old female cougar nicknamed Sasha, finally gave the “pet” up to the Bronx Zoo. The cougar is headed for the Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge in Arkansas. The cat was removed from a New York City apartment where she was being kept illegally as a pet.

Kelly Donithan of the Humane Society said this cougar was lucky because her owners recognized that she was not fit to live in an apartment and willingly gave her up.

“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,” Donithan said. “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.’”

These animals belong in the wild and their behaviors even though “look cute and cuddly when young, these animals can grow up to be unpredictable and dangerous.”

Bronx Zoo director Jim Breheny said, “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,” Breheny said. “In addition to these welfare concerns for the animals, the keeping of big cats by private people poses a real safety hazard to the owner, the owner’s family and the community at large.”

– Ella Breedlove

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