Man who illegally kept serval cats put community at 'significant risk'

Serval cat

A pair of Serval cats which were being kept illegally on land in Colby in north Norfolk put the community at "significant risk". - Credit: North Norfolk District Council

A north Norfolk man put the local community at "significant risk" by keeping two wild animals without a licence, a council officer has said.

Warren Polydoru, 57, of Station Road in Cromer, pleaded guilty at Norwich Magistrates Court on June 8 to keeping one female and one male serval cat on land in Colby.

North Norfolk District Council (NNDC) took him to court after a complaint regarding concern over the animals in September 2021.

Norwich Magistrates Court.

Norwich Magistrates Court. Potential candidates need good communication skills, a sense of fairness and the ability to see an argument from different sides. - Credit: Archant

Servals can jump up to two metres, run at 50mph and tackle young antelope. They are classified as dangerous wild animals by law.

NNDC seized the animals and both are now being cared for at zoos.

James Windsor, environmental health officer at the council, said: “This was an extremely serious case for the council. 

"The discovery of two serval being kept in the district in accommodation which was not built in such a way that would have prevented their escape and put the local community at significant risk.

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“Effectively recapturing an escaped animal would have presented significant challenges."

Mr Windsor said servals were being kept privately in the UK more and more. He said there was a "highly lucrative" trade in breeding savannah cats - a cross between a serval and a domestic cat.

The court fined Mr Polydoru £40 and ordered to pay costs, compensation and a victim impact charge - which all together came to £674.

Mr Windsor said: “The council will not hesitate to take robust action where dangerous wild animals are being kept without a licence and in a manner which endangers public safety. 

“We are extremely grateful for the assistance of Norfolk Police’s rural crime team in both the detection of this crime and in bringing the matter to a satisfactory conclusion."

The council is responsible for issuing Dangerous Wild Animal licences, which allows individuals to keep such animals in circumstances which create no risk to the public and which safeguard the welfare of the animals.

This licence allows the council to conduct inspections and vet inspections are also required, with frequent reviews.

If you suspect someone is keeping a serval or another dangerous wild animal without a licence, please contact NNDC on 01263 513811.