Pet cougar relocated to Turpentine Creek

Thursday, September 9, 2021
These are the people behind the cougar’s rescue from a New York residence. Pictured at the Bronx Zoo are Brian Shapiro, New York state director of the Humane Society of the United States; Meghan Tiemann, animal care staff at Turpentine Creek; Dr. Kellyn Sweeley, staff veterinarian at Turpentine Creek; Dr. Paul Calle, chief veterinarian at the Bronx Zoo and Colleen McCann, curator of mammals at the Bronx Zoo.
Submitted photo

The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, the New York City Police Department and the Bronx Zoo collaborated in late August to remove an 11-month-old, approximately 80-pound female cougar from a New York City home.

The cougar’s new home is at Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge in Eureka Springs.

Kelly Donithan, director of animal disastear response for HSUS, was on the scene with the cougar and facilitated the transport.

“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,” Donithan said. “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.’ ”

Donithan said the cougar is lucky its owners realized a wild cat is not fit to live in an apartment or any domestic environment.

“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,” Donithan said. “We are thankful to the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation and everyone who was involved in dealing with this complex situation for helping make this rescue possible.”

Turpentine Creek president Tanya Smith said she has witnessed countless wild animals kept in shoddy, unstable cages and participated in rescues that resulted from animals escaping and roaming the streets.

“In these cases, the escaped animals are often killed, and people can be harmed,” Smith said. “It’s as much of a public safety issue as it is an animal welfare issue. We are so happy we can provide a safe and proper environment for this cougar to be free without being at risk of causing harm or being harmed.”

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