African serval Jalapeño, nicknamed Hal, arrived at the sanctuary in 2019. At the time, he was just a kitten coming to us with his mother Ava and his siblings Bell and Chili. Theirs was an international rescue we’d been working with authorities on for months.
This is a very special rescue since we were welcoming a family – a mother and her 3 kittens – something we’ve never done before.
It’s rare kittens in the exotic animal industry are ever allowed to be reared by their mother, as nature intended. But, because of your continued support, that’s exactly what will happen for Ava, her daughter Bell and sons Jalapeño (Hal) and Chili here at The Wildcat Sanctuary.
These servals, along with 9 others, were seized from a breeder who’d been selling serval kittens for years, charging $8,000 or more. They were also using them for photo ops. The website was attractive, making buyers think the kittens were loved and well cared for.
But, that wasn’t the case at all.
The servals were kept in RV trailers. They were exposed to high levels of ammonia from urine, had litter boxes overflowing with feces, didn’t have proper ventilation or access to water. The RVs became very hot and the windows were covered so these poor servals didn’t even have natural light.
Online sales of exotic animals can be deceitful. When transactions are online and cats are shipped or delivered, buyers never visit the breeder’s property to see the true horror these cats endure.
Authorities began an investigation when they received a complaint from a buyer that the kitten she’d purchased had a broken pelvis, two broken legs, and an issue with the sternum, likely from over-breeding and in-breeding. There were reports from others their kittens were dying before even reaching their second birthdays.
As soon as we were contacted about this case, we began helping authorities with placement and the endless paperwork involved with an international rescue. These poor cats had already been through so much. We wanted to assure they’d have a chance to live out their lives wild at heart at good sanctuaries.
The kittens have been named after peppers since they have such hissy, spicy personalities. Just like servals in the wild. And that’s just the way we like to see exotic cats!
Life at the Sanctuary
Hal has settled in well. He enjoys exploring the family’s new habitat and cuddling with mama Ava and his siblings.
While his sister Bell had hernia surgery and his brother Chili had to have both rear leg fractures surgically corrected, so far Hal’s been healthy.
But, with the history of metabolic bone disease so many of the servals rescued from that facility suffer from, we’ll keep a close eye on him as he continues to grow.
How You Can Help
Caring for a wild cat for life can be quite expensive. Our sponsorship program helps support the cats’ care costs and allows you to form a special bond with them. Would you consider becoming Bell’s sponsor parent?
Or even a one-time donation toward his care would be so appreciated. It’s easy to do using the buttons at the top of this page.
Thank you for caring about the little wild ones, too!