Pet Cougar in New York City Surrendered and Heading to Arkansas

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NEW YORK — A former pet cougar is being transferred to a local sanctuary after her New York City owner surrendered the animal to the Humane Society of the United States.

Last week, officers with NYDP and officials with the Bronx Zoo removed an 11-month-old, 80-pound, female cougar named “Sasha” from a home in NYC. The big cat was taken from the scene to the Bronx Zoo to be checked out.

Brian Shapiro, NY State Director, Humane Society of the United States; Meghan Tiemann, Animal Care Staff, Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge; Dr. Kellyn Sweeley, Staff Veterinarian, Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge; Dr Paul Calle, Chief Veterinarian, Bronx Zoo; Colleen McCann, PhD, Curator of Mammals, Bronx Zoo.

The cougar will arrive to Turpentine Creek, an animal sanctuary in Arkansas, this afternoon where she will receive lifelong care.

New York has been a hotbed for cases that involved dangerous animals residing in private residences. In 2003, NYPD removed an adult tiger from a Harlem apartment. In 2004, a child was attacked by his father’s pet leopard. The Bronx Zoo also regularly responds to emergency calls to administer anti-venom to owners of exotic snakes.

“We have 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. 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.”

Tanya Smith, Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge President

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