After the escape of the African caracal, Royal Oak revises the animal ordinance – The Oakland Press

An African caracal cat that broke away from its backyard enclosure in Royal Oak nearly two weeks ago has asked city officials to gather details on how to change the animal ordinance of the community.

The African cat, named Bam Bam, was one of two cats that somehow escaped from a special spacious cage where four of the animals were housed at the start of October 13. One of the cats quickly returned home.

After hours of walking that included a stop near Oakridge Elementary with police chasing him, Bam Bam was captured late that night by a woman from South Lyon Murphy Animal Rescue.

“This was the third time these cats have come out,” Royal Oak Police Chief Corringa O’Donohue told city commissioners on Monday evening.

One of the breakouts happened three weeks earlier, he added.

“We had some tough conversations with the owner, who really loves these animals,” O’Donohue said. “The animals are no longer in town and they are not coming back. “

Owner Elaine Westfall was fined with five civil citations for failing to keep animals on her property in the 700 block of East LaSalle Avenue.

Westfall is potentially risking thousands of dollars in fines.

Bam Bam in a photo from South Lyon Murphy Animal Rescue after the rescue captured the African caracal.

While caracals are carnivores that typically weigh around 40 pounds, the state’s Department of Natural Resources has said municipal police caracals are not considered exotic or regulated animals in Michigan.

Westfall attorney Derrick George said they were trying to work things out with police.

“She has every right to come back here,” said George, adding that his client owned his home in the city. “Technically, she could bring the cats back – I don’t see anything in the (existing) city ordinance that wouldn’t allow her to do so.”

City manager Paul Brake said the quotes Westfall faces are for not keeping African cats on his property.

City officials will begin to examine how they are adapting the Royal Oak Animal Ordinance to reduce any future issues with caracals and other types of pets.

“My recommendation is not to focus on just one species, but to do an overview of our order,” said Brake.

This process will include investigating the problem, learning more about animal control, and educating with a public engagement effort.

While the state cannot legally classify caracals as exotic animals, seeing such an animal in a suburban neighborhood or near a school was obviously alarming for some residents.

Oakridge Primary School canceled recess when Bam Bam was spotted in the area, police said.

Other people are more sympathetic than afraid.

“When you start talking about animals, it brings out different constituencies,” Brake said.

He said Royal Oak should not distinguish between caracals when other carnivores such as wolf hybrids and coyotes are permitted as pets by the state.

“Lions and tigers are known to be exotic,” said Brake. “The Caracals are not.”

Making a thoughtful decision is better than “having an instinctive reaction,” said Mayor Michale Fournier.

Long-time resident municipal commissioner Patricia Paruch said she was unable to recall an incident in the town that was similar to the search for Bam Bam, which garnered heavy media coverage and attention. social media.

Reporters from as far away as London were calling city police about the caracal caper.

Paruch suggested looking at zoning requirements in residential areas.

Westfall “is potentially developing a livestock operation in a single-family residential area,” Paruch said without naming the owner of Bam Bam.

City Commissioner Brandon Kolo spoke with Detroit Zoo officials, including outgoing director Ron Kagan, after the incident.

“The zoo is ready to help us,” Kolo said.

But Kagan told Kolo earlier that the caracals and species of wild animals are dangerous to the people of the neighborhood.

“I know this is a passionate project for the owner,” Kolo said. “But it has to be done in a safe way.”

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