An 11-month-old baby cougar has been rescued from a New York City apartment, according to the Wildlife Conservation Society.
The 80-pound cougar, named Sasha, was being illegally kept in an apartment in the Bronx as a house pet until it was removed last week.
Animal welfare officials transported Sasha to the Bronx Zoo where she was treated by veterinarians.
Kelly Donithan, director of animal disaster response for the US Humane Society, said that Sasha’s owner was devastated when the big cat was driven away. However she noted that an apartment is not a healthy living environment for cougars.
“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,” Ms Donithan said in a statement.
Basil Seggos, commissioner of New York’s Department of Environmental Conservation, said that although baby cougars may seem harmless, they can grow up to be dangerous animals.
Sasha remained at the Bronx Zoo for several days before being transferred to the Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge in Arkansas on 31 August. The cougar will be cared for at the refuge for the rest of her life.
Jim Breheny, director of the Bronx Zoo, said the exotic pet trade does not serve animals’ best interests.
“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,” Mr Breheny said.
NYPD Police Commissioner Dermot Shea said the case is still under investigation.