Rescuing Unusual Animals

Animal Care & Control of New York rescues exotic animals as well as dogs and cats.

Calls concerning abandoned cats are depressingly routine at Animal Care & Control (ACC) of New York, which runs shelters in all five of the city's boroughs. But a phone tip about Ming led shocked staffers to a Harlem apartment, where they found a fully-grown, 400-pound tiger whose owner had left him home while seeking treatment in the hospital.

Domesticated dogs and cats make up most of the 44,000 animals that ACC takes in each year. But last year, the rescue facility received 4,165 animals you don't expect to see on the streets of New York City, from alligators to hawks to cows, according to the ACC.

With 190 employees, ACC has a staff member familiar with almost every kind of animal that comes in. After a field officer rescues an animal on a tip (or a concerned citizen brings one in), ACC performs a medical evaluation to check for injuries and overall health. Once the animal is properly housed, ACC staff members provide food and water.

Unlike dogs, cats and rabbits, exotic animals are not available for adoption. Instead, the organization reaches out almost immediately to a nationwide network of partners to place the animal. Birds of prey are transferred to New York's Animal Medical Center, where they're checked thoroughly and sent to a licensed rehabilitator. Farm animals, which typically escape from slaughterhouses or live poultry markets, usually end up at farm sanctuaries in rural upstate New York, where they spend their days roaming contentedly. And as for Ming? You can now visit him at the exotic animal sanctuary Noah's Lost Ark in Berlin Center, Ohio, along with his new neighbors, including Siberian tiger Nakita, whom the sanctuary rescued from the perils of having been put up for auction on Ebay, and Ruger, a cougar whose previous owner was looking to get him stuffed by a taxidermist. Read their stories at www.noahslostark.org.

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