'Tiger King' co-star Carole Baskin says exotic Vancouver pet that was mistaken for cougar is a serval

An internet debate has broken out over the exotic cat that was mistaken for a cougar this week in Vancouver – and Carole Baskin has weighed in with her opinion.

The co-star of Netflix's hit documentary "Tiger King" disputed the assessment of conservation officers, who identified the spotted feline as a savannah cat after helping police wrangle the animal on Wednesday.

The savannah is a hybrid breed that came about through cross-breeding wild servals with domestic house cats.

"You were lied to if someone told you this is a hybrid. It's a serval," Baskin wrote on Twitter Thursday, echoing the opinion of a number of other social media users.

"As someone who has rescued servals and their hybrids for 30 years, I can assure you that the only reason they are calling it a savannah is because they know there is a law against owning a serval."

Keeping a serval as a pet is illegal in many jurisdictions, but not everywhere. While the B.C. government doesn't ban the owning of servals, doing so is strongly discouraged by the SPCA.

"Native to many parts of Africa, serval cats roam savannahs and wetlands hunting for prey. They have a poor quality of life when kept as pets," the B.C. SPCA website reads.

"In the wild, servals will leap high into the air to catch flying birds, and can slap fish hard enough to stun them. They are not easily house-trained, and will frequently mark their territory with urine."

The animal welfare organization said it is "extremely challenging" to provide for a serval's nutritional and veterinary needs.

Back in 2019, the SPCA seized 13 servals, including three serval kittens, from a breeder in the B.C. Interior, alleging the animals were found in "horrific living conditions."

 Vancouver's Animal Control Bylaw bans the owning of felids, such as lions and tigers, with an exception for domestic cats. CTV News has reached out to the city to confirm the bylaw applies to servals.

Video of Wednesday’s incident shows the exotic cat walking and running near Granville Street and King Edward, a busy intersection located near multiple schools.

Police said they were able to capture the cat and bring it to its home with help from conservation officers, and that there was no risk to the public.

Check out the latest Songs