The death of Berton the Serval cat, while under state care, has prompted the intervention of Cyprus Attorney General George Savvides, who said allegations of animal abuse must be investigated immediately.
“Respect and care for animals is a sign of civilisation. Every form of abuse is condemnable,” the AG tweeted.
“Allegations of animal abuse must be investigated promptly and effectively. That is why the Animal Police was established,” he added.
The Animal Police announced that it had taken over the investigation.
Meanwhile, the Cyprus Animal Party and the Greens have criticised the veterinary services, which they blame for the death of the wildcat.
The two parties were to hold a joint demonstration outside the AG’s office, demanding the prosecution of the head of the veterinary services, Christodoulos Pipis.
In statements, the Animal Party has fired at the government for the lack of proper facilities to hold such animals, handing them to zoos as an easy solution.
The Serval cat, named Berton, was handed over to the veterinary services and the Limassol Zoo following an attack on a three-year-old child after the animal had escaped from its owner’s flat in Limassol in May.
After being taken into their care, Limassol Zoo reported the animal had fallen ill and needed surgery due to an obstructed bowel. The cat underwent surgery on 1 August.
The animal was then transferred to Paphos Zoo, where animal services claimed there was an expert in Serval cats.
Berton was found dead on Tuesday, just days after the owner of Paphos zoo, where the cat was transferred following his operation, had assured the animal was in good health.
According to the animal’s documents, the animal was initially thought to be a Savannah cat, a mix between a Serval and a domestic cat.
However, it was later proven to be a Serval, as all experts examining the animal had agreed. The Serval (Leptailurus serval) is a wildcat native to Africa.
The import of both Savannah and Serval cats is restricted in Cyprus.
The cat was imported by its owner from Russia, with customs and animal services claiming that they have no record of the animal being imported.