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A New Jersey judge ordered that a pet bobcat be sent to live in the zoo after its most recent escape into the neighborhood.
Rocky, a bobcat owned by Stafford Township, New Jersey, resident Ginny Fine, will be staying at the Popcorn Park Zoo in Lacey Township, where he was caught after his most recent escape attempt. NJ Advance Media reports that Fine pleaded guilty to letting an exotic animal run wild, an ordinance that was passed after Rocky had escaped numerous times before.
What will become of Fine and Rocky?
As is often the case with exotic pets, their owners are less than law abiding, and Fine is proving to be no exception. According to The Associated Press, Rocky, a hybrid of a bobcat and a Maine coon, has escaped numerous times since April. In many states, possession of large and potentially dangerous wild animals like bobcats is prohibited without a special permit for research or exhibition. The AP reports that since Rocky is a hybrid, Fine has been able to skirt these regulations.
But not quite all of them. Stafford Township passed an ordinance in July prohibiting ownership of exotic animals and levied penalties against those that let them run wild. Under this ordinance, Fine was ordered to pay $500 in fines. Judge Damian Murray also ordered Fine to pay $560 in restitution to the Popcorn Park Zoo, which had been taking care of Rocky since he was caught in October.
NJ Advance Media reports that Judge Murray was brusque about Rocky finally parting with Fine, saying: "Some things are not meant to be. Rocky in your household is one of those things." Fine was tearful after her court date, flatly denying that she was thankful that Rocky was in the zoo's hands.
Fine should be a bit more thankful. The ordinance violation was likely an infraction, since it involved a fine and no jail time, and she is free to visit Rocky in the zoo. But according to NJ Advance Media, Fine still has a horse, a dog, and domestic house cats, so Rocky may have to wait his turn.
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