KINGSPORT, Tenn. (WJHL) – After an illegally-owned bobcat was discovered in a local home, authorities ordered the family pet “Cheetah” to be surrendered to wildlife experts at Bays Mountain Park and Planetarium. News Channel 11 digitized footage of the 1992 story, and you can watch it below:
Cheetah belonged to a Tri-Cities family that moved to the area after raising him from birth. According to interviews taken by News Channel 11, Cheetah’s family spoke out against his removal.
Cheetah was reportedly found in the woods by a family that regularly bottle-fed him and brought him to veterinarians for vaccinations and care. His owners said Cheetah was a part of their family and was “like a baby” to them.
Eventually, court and wildlife officials demanded the family hand Cheetah over to Bays Mountain Park and Planetarium.
“An animal such as this that’s been raised in captivity since a kitten, we certainly couldn’t release it into the wild because it’s not used to finding its own food and caring for itself,” a wildlife official told News Channel 11. “So this, we say, is he best resolution of the situation.”
“It’s just a shame that you have to lose something that you love,” Mary said. “It’s against the law because you love something. I’m going to take care of him, he’s never hurt nobody.”
News Channel 11 has reached out to the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency and Bays Mountain State Park for records on what became of Cheetah.