Rocky the runaway serval cat turns up in Virginia Beach

Rocky the African serval was spotted in Virginia Beach on Wednesday. [Photo courtesy Virginia Beach Animal Control]

Rocky, the Outer Banks’ most infamous feline runaway, turned up in Virginia Beach on Wednesday morning — more than five months after his last escape.

On its Facebook page, the City of Virginia Beach posted a photo of an African serval cat wearing a tracking collar, saying the “exotic cat” was spotted in the 2300 block of Shore Drive.

The red tag on the map marks the area where Rocky was spotted Wednesday. [Google maps]

Brian Hankins, Rocky’s owner, confirmed on the city’s page that the cat in question is indeed Rocky and wrote that he left messages for animal control to give him a call. Hankins did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Wednesday evening.

Virginia Beach Animal Control officers said they searched the area and found tracks after Wednesday morning’s sighting, but were unable to locate the cat.

So Rocky, who last escaped from his owner’s home in Martins Point on Oct. 23, 2018, remains on the lam.
Virginia Beach officials said the cat “may be social with humans” but advised anyone who sees him not to approach, but to call Animal Control instead.

Since his last escape, Rocky has been spotted many times and caught on security camera footage. Traps have been set and wildlife trackers have worked to find him, but the elusive feline evaded capture. His last escape, by far his longest, came about six months after a breakout early in 2018, which lasted several months.

Serval cats are considered the most successful hunters among African wildcats, but as pet they are known as extraordinary escape artists.

North Carolina is among a handful of states that doesn’t regulate ownership of many exotic species. Dare County also does not regulate the ownership of serval cats.

But Dare County Manager/Attorney Robert Outten said there are two current ordinances that may apply to Rocky. One requires that a “vicious, fierce or dangerous animal” must be confined or restrained. The second applies to dangerous dog provisions, but uses the word “animal” rather than dog.

“It allows impoundment and if it meets certain conditions ultimately it may be destroyed,” Outten said in an email after Rocky’s October escape.

Rocky is not known to be a threat to humans or pet dogs and cats, but has killed many local residents’ chickens.

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