By Margot Nicodeme
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All is well, for the caracal who had been seized by the gendarmes from a private individual in Roubaix (North), on October 24th. Like many animals illegally detained throughout France, the feline was returned to Tonga Terre d’Accueil associationwhich has a double function: it is both a zoo and a refuge, located in the Loire. Jean-Christophe Gérard is a veterinarian there, and has taken care of the caracal since his arrival.
Only felines and primates are welcomed at the refuge, as they cannot be placed with the other families of animals present in the park.
The “new fashion” for felines
The Roubaix caracal, in any case, “is in good health”, despite “a slight lameness in the left hind leg”, indicates the veterinarian. Within the next few days, an outdoor enclosure will be open to him. For the specialist, these felines have been paying the price for a “new fashion” for a few months, and the refuge has, for example, welcomed around ten servals in 2022. All illegally detained, since “if the owners were in order, there is no reason for them to be entrusted to us”.
Whether it’s the Savannah, born from a cross in the United States between a serval and a domestic cat, the caracal therefore, or even the “caracat”, born from the crossing of a cat and a caracal , all these animals “are protected and dangerous”. Their detention is closely supervised, as Jean-Christophe Gérard reminds us:
“You need a certificate of competence, which certifies that you have sufficient knowledge of the animal, but also adequate equipment. An enclosure, enough surface area, a heated house… These are not felines that we caresses in the evening, in his bed.”
No release into the wild
The Tonga refuge is a temporary reception structure. It is the authorities who entrust the animals, the time of the legal procedure. Because “animal trafficking is a serious offence”, decides the veterinarian. Then, several options are possible: either the owner complies with the law, or the shelter teams begin placement work. “We collaborate with French zoos, depending on their needs. »
Impossible, however, to release the animals into the wild. “They are not good candidates. They were raised on a bottle by humans, they would be doomed to certain death. And then, there is not always the will of the countries [d’origine des félins] to reintroduce them. »
If the caracal of the North did not a priori undergo ill-treatment, this is not always the case. Without mentioning the most extreme cases, the veterinarian remembers a serval recently taken in, who was exclusively “fed on Babybel and avocados, even though he is a carnivore! »
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