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Santa Fe African Serval Captured

SANTA FE – The search for the African serval spotted near Hyde Memorial State Park in Santa Fe has ended with its safe capture.

Conservation Officer Manuel Overby caught the approximately 30-pound male Sub-Saharan African animal early Thursday morning in a live cage and transported it to the Albuquerque BioPark for evaluation and safe keeping while a permanent home is determined. Officers will also attempt to identify the origin of its escape.

“Our residents did the right thing by immediately reporting the sighting to the Department,” said Overby. “Exotic pets like these are not only illegal, they do not make good pets. They have the potential to put the public in harms way and cause damage to the state’s wildlife resources.”

Park staff, visitors and residents reported seeing the cat several times this week near the state park. At this time the Department believes the serval was being kept as a pet and has no evidence to support it being from a captive breeding facility.

Serval are found in Africa south of the Sahara and have a coat marked with black spots and stripes similar to a cheetah. It is a nocturnal hunter with large ears that primarily preys on rabbits and rodents. Servals are common in southern Africa and are not endangered. They are illegal to import or possess in New Mexico.

If you see an animal that looks out of place in the wild, please contact the department at 888-248-6866, Operation Game Thief at 800-432-4263 or contact your local law enforcement agency.

The Department wishes to thank Albertson’s Market Street at North Guadalupe Street for providing the rotisserie chicken used to successfully bait the serval and the New Mexico State Parks staff for assisting in the operation.