Serval taken to wildlife refuge after escaping New Mexico owner twice

Nov. 1 : An African serval that twice escaped from his owner in New Mexico has a new permanent home at a wildlife refuge in Arkansas.

The Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge said the male serval, Hunter, and a female of the species escaped from their owner in the Santa Fe area in 2016.

Hunter was later recaptured, but the female was never found. Hunter’s owner was told African servals are banned in New Mexico and he was ordered to give up his pet or leave the state.

The owner told authorities he was leaving the state, but official received reports in August of a serval spotted wandering in Santa Fe. The feline was captured and identified as Hunter.

Hunter’s owner claimed the serval had escaped before he could leave the state in 2016, but investigators said the exotic cat appeared well cared-for and did not seem like he had been on his own for three years.

Hunter was temporarily taken to the Albuquerque Biological Park but was transferred this month to Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge. Officials at the Arkansas facility said they were contacted by Hunter’s supporters and they decided to give the cat a permanent home.

Turpentine Creek officials said Hunter is now settling in at his new home.

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