Ava, MO

Missouri Farmer Catches 'Crazy Looking' 30-Pound African Serval Cat, & Contacts Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge

Zack Love

A farmer near Ava, Missouri catches a "crazy looking" African serval cat in a live trap after it had been seen on his property on numerous occasions over the past six months. He contacts Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge about having the African serval in a live trap. A team drives up to Missouri to rescue this African cat.

African serval caught on Missouri farmPhoto byTurpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge

A Missouri farmer is relieved that an African serval is no longer "meandering" on his property after seeing this non-native cat roaming around for the past six months.

Missouri Farmer Contacts Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge

After capturing the African serval in a live trap, the farmer emailed the Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge in Eureka Springs, Arkansas, which is about two hours south of Ava, Missouri to come and rescue the cat.

The New York Post reported that Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge received the email on 17 January 2023, and the Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge believes that someone "let it go near the farm" or it "had escaped somewhere."

Tanya Smith, President of Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge spoke about the situation. Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge posted the video documenting this trip on 19 January 2023 on YouTube.

Tanya Smith, President of Turpentine Creek Wildlife RefugePhoto byTurpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge (YouTube)

She said:

"Today it looks like we're going on an emergency call for an African serval near Ava, Missouri. We got this call and its been caught in a live trap. This is the third animal like this that we've heard caught in a live trap so we're not really sure what's going on but we'll let you know as this progresses." -Tanya Smith, President of Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge (Source: YouTube)

When Tanya and her team arrived on the scene, they found the African serval, and evidence of where it had eaten various birds, where bird feathers were found between hay bales. They load up the African serval and transport it back to the refuge in Arkansas.

The African serval caught weighed about 30 pounds* and was in relatively good health, given the circumstances that it has been surviving in a non-native environment for about six months.

*Most adult African serval cats weigh between 18 to 40 pounds are not native to the U.S. and are naturally found in the Sahara Desert of Africa.

After they get the African serval back to the refuge, Tanya announces that there will be a naming opportunity for the cat, which includes continued financial support for this exotic cat.

Everyone can rest assured that the African serval rescued from Missouri is now in the best environment for care, given that it was rescued and not in its native environment.

Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge has More Than One African Serval

African serval Facebook postPhoto byTurpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge

Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge posted on Facebook on 22 January 2023 about another African serval cat they have named "Whistler" that was rescued from a private owner.

It is good to know that there are several African servals that can keep each other company. This doesn't take away from the fact that African servals are predators and not meant to be house pets, and should never be released into the wild by private owners.

Below is a YouTube video example of an interaction between a mini Doberman Pinscher and an African serval. The dog continues to lunge at the African serval with its teeth gnarled, despite being much smaller. It is not a good situation for these two animals to be in.

The Big Cat Public Safety Act (2022)

The Big Cat Public Safety Act (2022) was signed into law on 20 December 2022 and makes it illegal for people to breed certain "big cats." The big cats covered by this law are lions, tigers, leopards, cheetahs, jaguars, cougars, or any hybrid of these species.

African servals are not covered by this law, but probably should be, as they are not native to the U.S., and they can easily attack most animals that are considered domesticated pets. It is a wild animal, and should not be raised like a common house pet.

Final Thoughts

I am personally glad for an organization like Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge. They truly care for these rescued exotic animals and do not exploit them, as we saw in the Netflix show, Tiger King.

Please share this article on social media with friends and family so others can be informed about this story.


Oberholtz, Chris. "Missouri farmer traps ‘crazy-looking cat’ that turns out to be wild African serval." New York Post. 28 January 2023.

Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge Facebook page.

Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge (YouTube) "January 2023 Serval Rescue." 19 January 2023.

YouTube account "Serval Lexus": "Pincher vs Serval." 3 March 2021.

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Zack covers interesting and inspiring news stories that impact local communities. He has a bachelor's degree and an MBA.

Huntsville, AL

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