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Type “serval” into an online search engine and the top entry will be the Wikipedia page for this spotted cat of Africa. One can easily learn about their wide range across Africa; how they have a long body, small head, and large ears; their hunting habits, prey, and diet; and their threats and conservation needs. Listed among the threats are loss of habitat, trade in skins, and animals being killed in conflict with livestock herders.

Interestingly, what’s missing from this discussion is the use of servals in the exotic pet trade.

What’s particularly intriguing is that the second entry when searching online for “serval” is the link to a page offering serval kittens for sale. And, the third entry is about caring for pet servals.

Saving Wadera

Ensessakotteh, Born Free Foundation Ethiopia’s Wildlife Rescue, Conservation, and Education Centre, has just taken in another serval. At only a few months of age, he was illegally captured from the wild in the forest near Goji, Wadera. He was tethered with a rope, dehydrated, and hungry: destined for the exotic pet trade.

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Now named Wadera, he has a chance at rehabilitation and ultimately a return to the wild, thanks to the expert caregivers on site. The restorative work done at Ensessakotteh is remarkable: lions from dilapidated zoos in the country, orphaned hyenas, primates used as attractions to lure people to restaurants, and cheetahs snatched from the wild and destined for the pet trade in the Middle East.

Protecting animals in the wild in Ethiopia is hard; there are so many threats and so few resources.

That said, looking at the situation globally — even in comparatively wealthy countries like the U.S. — the challenges are obvious. In the U.S., there are horrible roadside zoos from coast to coast that shamefully exploit animals for public display … and for money. Many of these facilities are even licensed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. We have “conflict” with bears raiding trash cans and deer wandering residential streets as we encroach on their habitat. We have a tiger in a Louisiana truck stop to entice people to fill their tanks there. And, we have wild animals captured from nature and bred in captivity to feed the domestic exotic pet trade.

Wild, Not Pets

Right here in the U.S., just like in Ethiopia, servals are exploited as pets — and it’s a terrible situation. According to the Born Free USA Exotic Animal Incidents Database, there are literally dozens of stories involving animals like Wadera.

In Nevada, Connecticut, North Carolina, Missouri, Indiana, New York, and other states, servals are treated horribly. Servals were among the animals removed from a Nevada home, where they were locked in bedrooms and bathrooms, with urine and feces everywhere. Meanwhile, a serval escaped a North Carolina home to be recaptured four days later, thankfully avoiding being slaughtered in the streets. Story after story shows these animals kept in inappropriate conditions, put at risk, harmed, or killed.

Born Free USA has long campaigned to end the trade in exotic animals as pets. We work for change across the U.S. and internationally. The Born Free USA Primate Sanctuary in Texas is home to many monkeys who were confiscated or relinquished from the pet trade. Just this month, we retrieved a pet vervet monkey named Mikey from a home in Alabama and will now give him lifetime care. At Ensessakotteh, monkeys receive the same compassionate care … and so do servals, including the new addition, Wadera.

Bottom line: there are too many exotic animals in need of rescue. We will rescue every one we can. The best solution, however, is to stop the exotic pet trade, once and for all.



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One comment on “What the Rescue of an Illegally Captured Serval Teaches Us About the Exotic Pet Trade”

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Muriel Servaege
2 Months Ago

Poor little serval! Of course, wild animals can\'t be pets.


Reply
Samantha Fairley
2 Months Ago

If you look after them very well from very young age and provide properly to their needs it's ok to take in wild stray babies.


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JJ James
30 Dec 2016

most people also are not aware that most wild animals also live much longer and healthy life in captivity than they do in the wild. Tho as someone that once raised a wild serval from when he was just a few weeks old who was a rescue from an unscrupulous pet store back in the 90s I can say they do not make very good pets. Taking care of him was almost a full-time job. and was like a special needs child but only with razor shape claws and huge fangs on a jaw that can bit as hard as any pitbull. and they do and will try to stalk anything they see as pray such as small children or other animals.

Samantha Fairley
30 Dec 2016

Yeah, hah sounds lovely and challenging. I think the animal rights lovers who have their hearts firmly in the right place in regards to concentrating on the animal freedom in contrast to cages have forgotten that being loved and cared for by society and vets and food providers is a wonderful plus, if properly cared for by people it would make a beautiful world, the wild integrating healthily and respectfully with humans. Hard work though indeed

Deborah
30 Dec 2016

No, really it\'s not. The only \'people\' who should be taking in wild strays are certified, accredited rescue organizations.
Wild animals should NOT be kept as pets. Especially wild cats. They are not, nor will ever be truly tamed no matter how early you get them, nor how much time and effort and \'love\' you give them.
Baby cats especially are fully capable of being reared (touch free!) and released back into the wild to live full and WILD lives like they are supposed to.

Wolf
03 Jan 2017

The number one thing these "loving wild cat owners" don\'t realize, is that wild cats never stop marking their territory. Even feral house cats will spray, no mater if neutered or not. Wild cats will never stop to, no matter what you try. The "love" of these pet owners dwindles rapidly, when the whole house stinks. We\'ve had several of these poor cats, who had been abandoned and it is heart braking, when you realize that an animal, that could have had a free life, will suffer, because you can not rehab it, once it has been kept by people for a while. Some of these "loving" cat owners even declaw the wild cats, because they shred mercilessly whatever they find, out of desperation or simply to mark their territory. Wild cats do not belong into a house, period! And even if they live shorter in the wild, they are happier!

Valerie Mandall
2 Months Ago

No end to human stupidity & avarice. Why the ownership?? Nothing to gain but a live toy. Disgraceful.


Reply
Lynette Blackert MacLagan
2 Months Ago

They are prisoners of humans!


Reply
Judi Williams
2 Months Ago

I wish all humans would understand that wild animals DO NOT make good pets. It's all about humans trying to get attention. The animals DO NOT want to be owned.


Reply
Samantha Fairley
30 Dec 2016

I think it could be done- but sounds challenging. I think the animal rights lovers who have their hearts firmly in the right place in regards to concentrating on the animal freedom in contrast to cages have forgotten that being loved and cared for by society and vets and food providers is a wonderful plus, if properly cared for by people it would make a beautiful world, the wild integrating healthily and respectfully with humans. Hard work though indeed, in looking after them probably with healthy space and exercise etc

Shelagh Maitland
2 Months Ago

God help them all because humans are not


Reply
JJ James
30 Dec 2016

HUM is no humans are helping any animals at all then how do you even explain the fact that this post even exists????

Shelagh Maitland
30 Dec 2016

Ok I take your point, I was of course referring to those who ignore what is happening to our wildlife. The same people who think it is ok to make wild animals pets for their own pleasure disregarding the fact that they have made these animals prisoners for life.

Ineke Jansen-Alblas
2 Months Ago


Reply
Cruz Dela Bonn
2 Months Ago

Humans are the scourge.


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Janet Saulino Miklas
29 Dec 2016

You got that right

Nancy Murillo
2 Months Ago

Stop!!!!!! Stop!!!! Stop this


Reply
Barbara Ludlam
2 Months Ago

I'm glad the right people found him


Reply


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