Cougar who was kept as pet in NYC apartment rescued and brought to wildlife sanctuary

It’s unbelievable that anyone would want to keep cougar as a pet. Not only is it illegal, it’s dangerous for both the owner and the animal. Big cats need open spaces and a natural environment, not to be kept up in someone’s home.

Yet one person tried to keep a cougar as a pet inside a New York City apartment — but thankfully, the cougar is now getting the life she deserves.

According to a press release from the Wildlife Conservation Society, an 11-month-old, 80-pound female cougar was illegally kept in an apartment in the Bronx.

Wildlife Conservation Society

However, it seems the owner had a change of heart, or simply realized the danger and difficulty of keeping such an animal in an apartment, and surrendered the animal to authorities.

The Humane Society of the United States, New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, NYPD and the Bronx Zoo all collaborated to collect the cougar and secure a better home for her.

For the rescue team, it was a familiar story of someone taking in an “exotic pet” only to become overwhelmed as it grew, causing nothing but heartbreak for both the owner and animal.

“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,” said Kelly Donithan, director of animal disaster response for the Humane Society of the United States. “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.’”

Wildlife Conservation Society

“Wildlife like cougars are not pets,” said NYSDEC Commissioner Basil Seggos.“While cougars may look cute and cuddly when young, these animals can grow up to be unpredictable and dangerous.

After being removed from the owner’s apartment, the cougar received veterinary care. She was brought to the Humane Society and then to the Bronx Zoo, before finally arriving at her new permanent home: Turpentine Creek, an accredited sanctuary.

It’s safe to say that this big cat will be much better off now, getting the proper care and wide-open spaces that she could never dream of while kept in that apartment.

Wildlife Conservation Society

But the rescuers say that cases like this are still too common, and don’t always end as peacefully. Sara Amundson, president of the Humane Society Legislative Fund, urged Congress to pass the Big Cat Public Safety Act to crack down on breeding and possession of big cats.  

“A majestic species native to the United States and much of the Americas, cougars thrive in their natural habitats, not in a city home,” she said in the press release.

“This cougar is relatively lucky that her owners recognized a wild cat is not fit to live in an apartment or any domestic environment,” Kelly Donithan said. “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.”

Wildlife Conservation Society

It’s hard to believe that anyone would try to keep a cougar as a pet, especially in a small environment like an apartment, but we’re glad this cougar is safe in a sanctuary now.

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