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Wildlife officials probe possible serval escape in New Mexico

April 22 (UPI) -- Wildlife officials in New Mexico said they are investigating the escape of a suspected African serval being kept as a pet in the state.

Residents of the Enchanted Hill subdivision of Rio Rancho said they spotted the loose cat Monday night, and one neighbor managed to snap a photo of the animal.

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Animal Control said the cat was captured and was returned to its owner Tuesday morning when it was determined to be a Savannah cat, a hybrid of a serval and a domestic cat that is legal to keep in New Mexico without a permit.

The New Mexico Department of Game and Fish said it is investigating the incident and officials are still working to verify whether the animal is a Savannah cat or a serval.

A loose serval was captured in September 2019 at the Santa Fe National Forest. The cat was taken to the Albuquerque Zoo and later transferred to the Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge in Arkansas.

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