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Police search for wild cat after toddler attack

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Police are investigating how a wild cat, kept as a pet, attacked a three-year-old boy outside an apartment where other kids were attending a birthday party in Yermasoyia, Limassol.

The incident happened when, reportedly, a Savannah cat – a hybrid between a domestic cat and a serval wild cat – found its way out of its owner’s apartment, crossing paths with a three-year-old boy in the foyer of an upper floor of an apartment building.

The little boy is currently recuperating at a private clinic in Limassol after sustaining injuries to the head, where he received five stitches.

Police said they were investigating possible negligence but declined to comment on specifics or speculate.

The circumstances under which the part-wild hybrid cat emerged from the apartment were unclear, but police said the door had been shut before the incident.

According to police, there is no evidence that the door had been opened from the outside.

Local officials are trying to ascertain whether the owner of the crossbreed had committed any registration or import violations.

The animal services are also looking into the issue.

A Cyprus Voice for Animals (CVA) representative, a federation of animal welfare organisations, has expressed grave concern over the incident. It is not the first time wild or exotic animals have been kept as pets.

CVA’s Dinos Agiomamitis said the law on the importation of wild animals to Cyprus as pets or in zoos has many gaps, allowing people to import dangerous and possibly endangered species.

In May 2020, the cabinet approved regulations specifying the characteristics of animals that can be sold as pets and ensuring their welfare while in pet shops.

“However, there has been no regulatory framework concerning the species or categories of pets allowed to be sold or owned,” said Agiomamitis.

“In the past, cases of people owning dangerous animals like crocodiles and poisonous snakes, or exotic animals like some monkey species have emerged.

“As an animal rights organisation, we are deeply concerned over the wellbeing of these animals and the danger they may pose to humans”.

Agiomamitis said the organisation is worried the wild cat could be put down following the attack on the toddler.

“We call on the animal services to intervene and collect the animal and take the necessary measures to ensure that it is returned to its natural habitat if possible, or sent to a refuge centre which specialises in wild animals previously kept illegally as pets.”