“This is a wild animal:" Woman awakes to serval, native to Africa, in her Atlanta bedroom

BROOKHAVEN, Ga. (CBS46) -- The Georgia Department of Natural Resources captured an exotic cat that was on the loose in Historic Brookhaven. 

The agency has received at least three reports this week about a serval, which is native to Africa, roaming the neighborhood that borders Atlanta and Brookhaven. One of those reports came from Kristine Frank.

“I’m laying in bed and I hear a thump on my bed and I’m thinking my dog is 15-years-old,” Frank recalled. “She can’t get up on our bed anymore.”

On Wednesday, Frank, who lives off Club Drive NE, woke up to the cat in her bedroom. She screamed and ran out of the room, slamming the door behind her as the serval cowered in the corner.

“It was big. It was scary,” she said. “You can’t predict what a wild animal is going to do when it’s cornered.”  

Frank’s husband opened a connecting patio door but instead of scurrying away, the serval lingered on her property, allowing Frank to snap several pictures of it. She said the wild animal eventually disappeared into a nearby golf course.

Frank contacted animal control which referred her to the Georgia Department of Natural Resources.

“It’s difficult in an urban situation like this because there are so many places to hide, but we think it’s staying in a relatively small area of the neighborhood,” said Lt. Wayne Hubbard.

Hubbard said servals are popular in the pet trade and that the animal on the loose is likely someone’s pet. However, it is illegal to have servals as pets in the state of Georgia.

On Thursday, the agency placed a trap in the yard of one of the three homes where the animal was seen. Once it’s captured, the Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF) has offered to place it in an animal sanctuary in North Carolina.

“Our hope is that this cat will be able to go to an accredited sanctuary and live out her life in a place where she’s going to get adequate care, proper nutrition and the space she needs to thrive, and exhibit a lot of those natural behaviors that are impossible in private homes,” said Alicia Prygoski, senior legislative affairs manager for ALDF.

“This could’ve gone horribly different,” Frank said. “I have an elderly dog. I’m lucky I don’t have any small children anymore. This is a wild animal and they shouldn’t be pets.”

Hubbard said the likelihood of a serval randomly attacking someone is low but does not recommend trying to pet or catch it. 

Officials say they are in the in the process of finding it a permanent home in a wildlife sanctuary. At this time the cat is currently being held in a third-party facility until it is to its new home. 

According to a Georgia DNR spokesperson, they will determine whether charges are warranted, and if so, what they will be.

Copyright 2021 WGCL-TV (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.

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(1) comment


This is the result of the illegal pet trade - which goes hand-in-hand with wildlife trafficking. The animals are the true victims. There is no reason to keep wild animals as pets. I hope this cat isn't killed before rescuers can find and humanely trap them.

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