New York City exotic animal trader sold wildcat kittens as house pets

NEWS AND VIEWS: In violation of New York State law governing the commercial possession and sale of wild cat species such as the caracal and serval, Christopher Casacci, 38, of Amherst, traded in these exotic African cats under the guise of selling domestic pets. He sold dozens of caracals and servals for $7,500 to $10,000 each. He traded in cubs and felt able to mislead the public into believing that they were adopting ‘house pets’. For the uninitiated it can be difficult visually to tell the difference between a wildcat cub and a domestic kitten until of course they grow up and until you hear them speak because the sounds made by a wildcat youngster is completely different to those made by a domestic cat youngster. Believe me, I have heard it and seen it.

Loki an abandoned high filial Savannah cat
Loki an abandoned high filial Savannah cat. At BCR now. Safe but anxious. This is not one of the cats in question but a rescued high filial Savannah which can be the outcome of the sort of business conducted by Casacci.
Until September 7th I will give 10 cents to an animal charity for every comment. It is a way to help animal welfare without much effort at no cost. Comments help this website too, which is about animal welfare.

Young caracals believed to be the ones traded by Casacci
Young caracals believed to be the ones traded by Casacci. Photo: AP.

Both the serval and the caracal are protected under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). This is an international treaty which is dramatically failing due to lack of enforcement. It has no teeth and is fairly hopeless in my honest opinion.

Casacci, we are told by The United States Department of Justice, falsified transport documents to hide the true species of his cats in stating that they were wildcat hybrids such as the Bengal cat or Savannah cat. Once again he was using the difficulties in distinguishing between a high filial wildcat hybrid such as an F2 or F1 Savannah and the serval, the male of which is the parent of an F1 Savannah cat.

The law of America and in particular the state of New York makes it clear that people and businesses dealing animals are required to comply with humane care standards under the Animal Welfare Act. Casacci failed in this regard and he also failed to obtain the necessary licence from the US Department of Agriculture.

He was charged with violating the Animal Welfare Act in selling animals without a licence and for failing to show minimum compliance with humane treatment standards.

He had been previously indicted for his behaviour in January 2020. The investigation was carried out by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service – Office of Law Enforcement. The person in charge was Special Agent Ryan Noel. Other investigating bodies involved were the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation and the Bureau of Environmental Crimes Investigation.

The man pleaded guilty on April 27, 2021 to violating the Lacey Act and the US Animal Welfare Act based on his illegal trafficking of these exotic wild medium-sized African cats.

Source: The United States Department of Justice.

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