Serval seized by the police from a home in Putney because the owner didn’t have a licence

A one year old serval has been seized from the owner by the police because he didn’t have a local authority license to keep her. He lives near Putney in a place called Roehampton which is actually quite close to me and on the outskirts of London, UK. He was given the serval by somebody else and he says that he was in the process of applying for a licence. He also claims that he wasn’t trying to evade having a licence.

Zena a yong serval treated as a pet in the UK
Zena and James Brown’s partner? Photo: James Brown.
Two useful tags. Click either to see the articles: Toxic to cats | Dangers to cats

He is disgusted that his serval, who he has named Zena, was taken from him because his cat wasn’t a problem and he believes that the law needs to be changed. He can’t see how it can be better for the cat to be put into a cage and taken to a secure facility, ripping her away from her human family.

Zena will be taken to some sort of wildlife sanctuary in the UK so James Brown, her owner, won’t see her again. He has petitioned online to see whether he could gather some support to get her back but so far without success. Zena will be checked out medically before being relocated. The police turned up at 6 am at his home. They were tipped off by a neighbour who saw Zena in the window.

Zena does not look like a domestic cat, as you can imagine, despite being a young serval. They are quite noticeable and definitely look like an exotic animal, indeed, a wild cat species. The previous owner had given her up not realising how much effort it would take to provide for her. This supports my argument, one that I have made several times on this website, that people who want to adopt a serval should go into it with their eyes wide open as to the demands and the legal requirements. Very few people have the means in terms of time, commitment, space and finance to do a credible job of looking after a serval.

It is also believed that Zena was taken from the wild. If that is the case it’s also reinforces my belief that the whole process of treating a serval as a pet in the UK very much goes against conservation of this animal. It shouldn’t be allowed at all in my opinion but you can do it if you have a licence. The government sets out the specific law and a list of cats that you can keep provided you have the correct licence from your local authority – see below:

The Dangerous Wild Animals Act 1976 (Modification) (No.2) Order 2007 list of cats considered dangerous in the UK for which you need a license from the local authority
The Dangerous Wild Animals Act 1976 (Modification) (No.2) Order 2007 list of cats considered dangerous in the UK for which you need a license from the local authority

To get a license you’ll have to demonstrate that you have the means, know-how and facilities to look after a wild cat to a decent standard. It won’t be a pushover.

As for James Brown he wants the law changed and he will take the matter as far as he can he said. He is particularly annoyed because his daughter had become attached to the cat.

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