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'Cheetah' reported on the loose in Pennsylvania was African serval

UPI News Service, 11/09/2017 

Animal control officers summoned to a Pennsylvania neighborhood on a report of a "cheetah" running loose ended up capturing a different exotic cat: an African serval.

The Animal Rescue League of Berks County, which serves as the animal control agency for the city of Reading, said police summoned animal control officers Friday night when they received a report of a cheetah running loose.

ARL personnel succeeded in capturing the cat, which was found to be an African serval, not a cheetah.

"We've been working closely with state Game Commission," Tom Hubric, ARL interim executive director, told the Reading Eagle. "This is a wild animal. This isn't something you can legally own unless you have a special license."

The Pennsylvania Fish and Game Department confirmed no one in Berks County holds a permit to own the exotic cat, the ARL said in a Facebook post.

Hubric said the feline, which had been declawed, appeared to be an escaped illegal pet. He said the female serval was likely being used for breeding purposes.

"If you take a female serval, which is what she is, and you mate her with a domestic cat, that is then called a Savannah cat," he explained. "A Savannah cat is a legal cat you can own. You don't need a license. And those kittens are worth 10 grand a pop."

The serval was turned over to a Pennsylvaia Game Commission wildlife conservation officer, who delivered it to a rescue group specializing in big cats.

Hubric said the feline will spend the rest of her life being cared for by the group.

"She will be a cat that will be used for education and community outreach to promote why people shouldn't have exotic cats," Hubric said. "She'll spend the rest of her life in a healthy environment because this cat doesn't belong in your home."

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