“You never know what the day will bring around here!” said our president, Tanya Smith, after receiving a call for an emergency rescue roughly two hours away in rural Missouri. A farmer occasionally saw what he described as a “crazy-looking cat” on his property over six months. They started to notice feathers and bone remained between their stacked hay bales and decided to take action by setting a live trap. Less than twelve hours after placing the trap, they discovered an African serval inside.
Servals are naturally found in the temperate forests and grasslands of Africa. So the question remains, why would there be a serval somehow surviving the dead of winter in the Ozark Mountains? Likely, the animals escaped or were released by a backyard breeder or Savannah Cat breeder. Even though the Big Cat Public Safety Act has been passed, small cats and other species are not protected. It is common for private owners to release exotics into non-native environments.
The farmers had been caring for the serval by feeding it venison, giving it water, and even taking it to their local veterinarian. The vet aged it at about three years, sexed it as female and scanned it in hopes of finding a microchip present to source this wild animal back to an owner. No other medical exams were conducted to ascertain the health of the serval. There was no microchip, and after reaching out to the authorities, the farmer contacted TCWR. Within an hour of receiving the call, TCWR’s team was on the road as the serval was still confined to the small live trap with a possibility of poor health or injury.
After arriving at the rural location and successfully transferring the serval into their crate, TCWR’s team safely made it back to the Refuge. She was placed in a recovery enclosure, fed boneless chicken, watered, and given some toys as well as a mulch bed that she seemed to really enjoy! We don’t know what this unnamed serval has experienced, where she’s been or where she came from. She has quite the road ahead of her, starting with a name. TCWR staff are excited to see how her individual Rescue to Refuge story develops!