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An 80-pound cougar who was pulled from a New York home last week is heading to a wildlife sanctuary after a short stay at the Bronx Zoo.

“Wildlife like cougars are not pets,” Basil Seggos, commissioner of the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, said in a statement Monday. “While cougars can appear cute and cuddly when they are young, these animals can become unpredictable and dangerous as they grow older. “

The cougar, an 11-month-old female named Sasha, was removed from the house with the help of New York City police on Thursday evening, according to the Wildlife Conservation Society statement.

Sasha was then taken to the Bronx Zoo where she was examined by vets before heading to Turpentine Creek, an Arkansas animal sanctuary where she will receive lifelong care.

Animal welfare officials said the big cat was handed over by its owner.

“I have never seen a cougar in the wild, but I have seen them on a leash, crushed in cages and crying for their mothers when the breeders tear them up. I have also seen the owners heartbreak, as in this case. , after being sold not only a wild animal, but a false dream that they could make a good ‘pet’, “said Kelly Donithan, director of animal disaster response for the Humane Society of the United States, who was at the scene.

“This cougar is relatively lucky that his owners have recognized that a feral cat is not fit to live in an apartment or a home environment. The owner’s tears and the cougar’s nervous chirps as we pulled him back painfully back home the many victims of this horrific trade and the myth that wild animals are only nature’s thing, ”Donithan said.

NYSDEC and NYPD worked to coordinate the safe removal of the big cat from the house and transport it to the Bronx Zoo where she was treated by vets and animal care staff over the weekend until its transport to an Arkansas wildlife sanctuary.Julie Larsen Maher / Bronx Zoo

It is not known in what neighborhood or in what type of housing the cougar lived. The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation does not comment on ongoing investigations, and Police Commissioner Dermot Shea said the matter is under investigation and no further information would not be disclosed.

Shea thanked officers from the Emergency Services Unit and Animal Cruelty Investigation Squad, who assisted the police.

Sara Amundson, chair of the Humane Society Legislative Fund, urged Congress to pass the Big Cat Public Safety Act, which “would strengthen existing laws prohibiting the breeding and possession of big cat species such as lions, tigers, cheetahs and jaguars ”.

New York’s wildlife ownership regulations were tightened last year.

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