0-pound cougar removed from New York City apartment: NPR

0-pound cougar removed from New York City apartment: NPR

This photo, provided by the Bronx Zoo in New York, was taken from an apartment of an 11-month-old cougar in the Bronx Borough of New York.

The Bronx Zoo via AP


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The Bronx Zoo via AP

This photo, provided by the Bronx Zoo in New York, was taken from an apartment of an 11-month-old cougar in the Bronx Borough of New York.

The Bronx Zoo via AP

An 80-pound cougar was removed from a New York-New York City apartment where she was being held illegally as a pet, animal welfare officials said Monday.

The owner of the 11-month-old female cougar surrendered to the animal on Thursday, said Kelly Donithon, director of animal disaster response at the United States Human Society.

The cougar, nicknamed Sasha, spent the weekend taking veterinary care at the Bronx Zoo and has now moved on to the Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge in Arkansas, officials said.

The Human Society coordinated with zoo officials, the state Department of Environmental Conservation, and the New York Police Department regarding the removal of the large cat.

“I’ve never seen cougars in the woods, but I’ve seen them strip, break into cages, and cry for their mothers when breeders tear them apart,” said Donithan of the Human Society. “I’ve also seen the owners’ annoyance in this case, as in this case, not only the wild animals were sold, but the false dream that they would become a good pet.”

Donithan said the cougar is relatively lucky because her owners, who live in the Bronx, recognized that the wild cat was not fit to live in the apartment and she took refuge.

“The owner’s tears and anxious chirping from the cougar when we took her away took many of the victims of this horrible trade home and realized that the wild animals were nowhere but in the woods,” Donithan said.

Basil Segos, commissioner of the Department of Environmental Conservation, said cougar “can look cute and cute when young, but these animals can grow up to be unpredictable and dangerous.”

Jim Breheny, director of the Bronx Zoo, said the trade in exotic pets makes no contribution to the conservation of endangered species.

“These animals often end up in extremely bad conditions, which are kept in private individuals who do not have the resources, facilities, knowledge or skills to provide for the basic needs of the animals,” Breheny said. “In addition to these animal welfare concerns, keeping large cats by private individuals poses a safety risk to the owner, the owner’s family, and a large community.”

New York has seen other notable incidents involving dangerous animals in private habitats, including the Ming, a 400-pound tiger that was removed from a Harlem apartment in 2003.

Ming’s owner, Anthony Yates, was arrested and sentenced to five months in prison for reckless endangerment. Ming died in 2019 at Noah’s Lost Ark Exotic Animal Rescue Center in Ohio.

Police Commissioner Dermot Shia said Cougar’s case is currently under investigation and no further information is available at this time.

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