11-Month Old Pet Cougar Rescued From an Apartment in New York City

  • An 11-month-old pet cougar, Sasha, was rescued from a New York City apartment after its owner called for help. 
  • Miranda Rodriguez reached out to a sanctuary after the 80-pound cat started growing and she realized it could be dangerous.
  • The cat was sent for a check-up at the Bronx Zoo over the weekend, and will spend the rest of her life at a wildlife sanctuary in Arkansas.

An 11-month old cougar cub was rescued from a New York City apartment last week, according to the Humane Society of the United States, a non-profit organization, on Monday. 

The cougar, nicknamed Sasha, was rescued on Thursday night from a home in the Bronx in a joint operation by the New York City Police Department (NYPD), New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, the Humane Society of the United States, and the Bronx Zoo, according to a press release.

The owner, who’s been identified as  Miranda Rodriguez by the New York Post, “surrendered” the cougar and was there when officials came to the apartment to rescue the 80-pound feline.

Rodriguez reached out to a sanctuary after the cat started growing, and she realized the cougar might be dangerous, reported New York Daily News. 

The cat was taken to the Bronx Zoo to be examined by veterinarians over the weekend before being sent to Turpentine Creek, an accredited wildlife sanctuary that houses “abandoned, abused, and neglected big cats.” The cat will spend the remainder of her life in the wildlife refuge. 

Turpentine Creek did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Insider.

“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, director of animal disaster response for the Humane Society of the United States said in the press statement. 

“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. 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’,” she added. 

“Those claws and those teeth and the pressure of the bite. You cannot take the wild out of these animals. Eventually something bad would have happened,” Emily McCormack, animal curator for the Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge told the Daily News.

Rodriguez told the Post Monday she was “grieving” over her loss. “She was a pet to me at the end of the day, so I’m still grieving about the whole situation,” she said. 

New York is no stranger to dangerous animals living in private homes. In 2003, the NYPD removed a 350-pound Bengal tiger from a Harlem apartment, reported The New York Times. Two 50-pound leopard cubs were also found in the basement of a home in Long Island in 2005, reported The Times

The Big Cat Public Safety Act was reintroduced in Congress this year to protect the public and the cats. If passed, it would make the possession of big cats illegal, and would also ban exhibitors from allowing direct contact of the public with cubs. 

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