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Arkansas refuge caring for serval that spent 6 months on the loose in Missouri

An African serval that spent at least six months on the loose in the Ava, Mo., area is now being cared for at the Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge in Arkansas. Photo courtesy of the Turpentine Creek Foundation
An African serval that spent at least six months on the loose in the Ava, Mo., area is now being cared for at the Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge in Arkansas. Photo courtesy of the Turpentine Creek Foundation

Jan. 24 (UPI) -- An African serval captured after at least six months on the loose in Missouri is receiving veterinary care for multiple ailments at a wildlife refuge in Arkansas.

Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge said the serval, a female believed to be about 5 years old, had been spotted wandering loose in Missouri on multiple occasions over the course of six months.

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The serval was trapped on an Ava, Mo., farm, and Missouri Game and Fish officials contacted the Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge about giving the African cat a new home.

Cheryl King, marketing director for the refuge, said the serval is now being treated for multiple health issues.

"She was severely anemic, largely due to an infestation of fleas. Her front right paw had a badly infected toe. The toe had a puncture wound on the bottom and infection had set in with swelling spreading to the toes alongside the injury," King said in an email to UPI.

King said the serval's tail was also injured as a result of suspected frostbite and about an inch had to be surgically removed.

"All of this has now been treated and she's being kept under observation in quarantine at our onsite vet hospital," King wrote.

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Officials said the serval was likely an exotic pet that escaped or was abandoned by its owner. The cats are common as exotic pets and are used to breed Savannah cats, a hybrid of a serval and a domestic feline.

"It was amazing that this young serval could survive six months like she has, but she obviously was successful by the amount of bird feathers we found onsite. The skilled huntress had obviously been bringing her kills back to her adopted 'den' to consume them in safety," refuge president Tanya Smith said in a news release.

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