An escaped exotic cat was spotted roaming the hills around Hyde Park on Monday.
"This animal had the most unique and beautiful markings," says Barrett Markland, one of a group of friends who came across the animal loping along the roadside as they made their way up to Hyde Park for a Labor Day picnic. "I was in Africa last summer and I saw bigger cats there but nothing more beautiful than the cat we saw yesterday just walking with intent along the shoulder of the road."
The group alerted other families picnicking with children and puppies about a mile up the road.
The exotic animal, likely a serval cat native to sub-Saharan Africa, is still on the loose.
A representative for New Mexico Game and Fish tells SFR officers were in the area Tuesday but were unable to catch the cat. The department is now working with the State Parks Department to respond to any further sightings.
Servals are classified as Class 4 imports and are illegal to own in New Mexico without a zoo permit or other specific qualifications, says NMDGF representative Tristanna Bicksord. Game and Fish is currently investigating the case. If they can catch it, the cat is likely to end up in a zoo, she says.
Anyone with information about where the cat came from is asked to call the Operation Game Thief hotline at 800-432-4263.
Fun fact: As long as your exotic beast comes with a note from your doctor, you just might be able to get away with keeping it as a pet. According to NMDGF documents, animals that fall in the class 4 import category, "are prohibited for the general public but may be allowed for… use as service animal."