Wild African cat kept as pet is loose in Illinois: officials

A serval, not the one pictured, is on the loose in Illinois, officials said.

A serval, not the one pictured, is on the loose in Illinois, officials said.

Screengrab of Macon County Animal Control and Care Center’s Facebook post

A wild animal that was being kept as a pet cat in Illinois is on the loose, officials said.

And if you see the African serval believed to be roaming in northeast Decatur, authorities warn you should not approach.

“We have no reason to believe the animal would try to attack people,” Macon County Animal Control and Care Center said in an Oct. 16 Facebook post. “However, as with any wild animal it could be dangerous in the right circumstances. Therefore, we are asking the public not to interact with it if it is found.”

The serval named Reese belongs to Christopher Solomon, WAND reported. He said he kept Reese in his apartment for two weeks before a guest left the door open and the cat escaped.

“I woke up at about one o’clock in the morning shivering cold because the door was wide open and was trying to figure out what was going on with my cat,” Solomon told the TV station. “But the cat was gone. I called the police and Animal Control who tried to find him. We did see him once that night, but he disappeared too quick. And unfortunately, we never found him again.”

Sgt. Ron Atkins, the animal control administrator with the Macon County Sheriff’s Office, said the owner bought the cat out of state, according to the The Herald & Review.

Solomon said there have been disputes over if he can legally keep the serval, according to WAND. He told the station the Illinois Department of Natural Resources said he could own the cat, but the sheriff’s office said it was illegal.

Macon County Animal Control and Care Center said it is working with exotic animal rescuers to capture the serval.

“Being a wild animal that is likely scared and could be hungry, you never know how it would react if it was cornered,” Atkins told The Herald & Review. “We don’t want anyone to approach it, because we don’t know how it’s going to behave.”

If you do see the serval, authorities ask you to call Animal Control at 217-425-4508, ext. 4.

Servals are native to the savannas of Africa and eat rodents, birds, reptiles and insects, according to the African Wildlife Foundation.

Decatur is about 40 miles east of Springfield.

Kaitlyn Alatidd is a McClatchy National Real-Time Reporter based in Kansas. She is an agricultural communications & journalism alumna of Kansas State University.

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