6:18 PM, August 1, 2008


Who could forget Princess Chunk, the large (44 pounds) cat that captured headlines around the world? Readers of L.A. Unleashed seemed to have quite a bit to say about the porcine-like feline, so we're pleased to be able to update the story, which includes a little gender confusion. The Associated Press reports:

BLACKWOOD, N.J. (AP) — A 44-pound cat found lumbering around New Jersey was abandoned by a woman who said her home was foreclosed, an animal shelter official said Thursday.

The porky white cat found Saturday became a local media sensation and was dubbed Princess Chunk. But the animal is really a male whose name is Powder.

Jennifer Anderch, director of the Camden County Animal Shelter, said Thursday that the cat’s owner came forward to describe the animal’s background. Anderch said she’s received hundreds of calls from people seeking to adopt Powder.

The cat appeared Thursday on “Live With Regis and Kelly.” A veterinarian on the show examined it and determine he was indeed a male.

The largest cat on record weighed 46 pounds, 15 ounces. That cat, which lived in Australia, died in the 1980s. The Guinness World Records has since dropped the category, fearing cat owners might harm their animals in an attempt to break the record.

Photo: John Costello / McClatchy-Tribune

11:24 PM, June 28, 2008

A well-known chimp named Moe -- whose chimp companions brutally attacked Moe's owner in 2005 -- is missing from the Devore wildlife facility where he lived, the San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department reports.

"I have a chimp missing. I don't know if he escaped or not," said Tom Betty, a supervisor with the Sheriff's Department. Betty told The Times on Saturday night that Moe was believed to have fled into the San Bernardino National Forest and was being sought by animal control officers.

The Inland Valley Daily Bulletin has more:

On Friday afternoon, the chimp featured in several news stories over the years, escaped from Jungle Exotics near Devore. On Saturday, San Bernardino County animal-control officers and volunteers were searching the heavily forested area, while a privately owned helicopter circled overhead.

Michael McCasland, who said he was a friend of the West Covina couple who raised the chimp, likened the search to looking for a missing child. "These 24 hours since he got away are crucial just like looking for a child," he said. "He has never escaped into the wild before and has no food or water out there." McCasland, who was at the scene Friday and Saturday, said Moe might have escaped into the San Bernardino National Forest after being spooked by a recent fire.

Read more Moe the chimp escapes from wildlife facility »

11:15 AM, May 26, 2008

Authorities_photograph_a_dead_cougaPerhaps you recall the cougar that was shot last month on the north side of Chicago? There was a great uproar among animal folk about the death and criticism (and praise) for the way the surprise appearance was handled. Now it turns out that authorities are investigating whether an arson fire near the Chicago mayor's summer home last month is linked to threats against Mayor Richard M. Daley from someone who is furious about the cougar killing. The Washington Post has an update:

Chicago FBI Special Agent Ross Rice said that "a number of letters were received at various locations throughout the metropolitan area blaming Mayor Daley and others for what the writer called the unnecessary death of the cougar, and threatening to take revenge against the mayor and other individuals."

Rice declined to reveal more details of the letters, one of which was sent to an elementary school near where the animal was killed. The Chicago Sun-Times reported that Daley received a letter mentioning his wife and children and threatening to burn his home.

The FBI is investigating the letters.

--Alice Short

Photo: Chicago Tribune

11:00 AM, May 1, 2008

Chicagocourgar_ii We've got an update on the cougar that was shot by police in Chicago last month. L.A. Unleashed first blogged about it when the animal had the misfortune to wander into that city's North Side. The Chicago Tribune has the latest.

DNA test results released Wednesday show that the cougar police shot in Chicago last month is the same one that frightened a southern Wisconsin man in January, and researchers hope cutting-edge forensic techniques will reveal even more about the animal's long, mysterious journey.

In the next few weeks scientists with the U.S. Forest Service will do a fine-grained genetic analysis that could reveal more about the 124-pound cat's ancestry — possibly even its mother or father. Cook County animal-control officials also have sent out test samples of the cougar's claws, which may bear molecular clues about the cougar's diet and where it was born.

According to the Tribune, the new tests show that it's possible the cougar traveled 1,000 miles, from the Black Hills of South Dakota to the Windy City.

-- Alice Short

Photo: Candice C. Cusic/Associated Press

10:44 PM, April 27, 2008

Mountain_lionIt's been a bad month for cougars (a.k.a. mountain lions). A couple of weeks ago, a cougar wandered into the north side of Chicago and was shot and killed by a policeman.

On Saturday, a cougar was shot and killed in Atascadero after making its way into a populated area, according to the San Luis Obispo Tribune.

"Police warned people in nearby businesses and homes before calling the state Department of Fish and Game. Both agencies decided that to protect the public they would need to shoot the animal."

Stay tuned for reaction.

-- Alice Short

Photo: Irfan Khan /Los Angeles Times

1:16 PM, April 18, 2008


It would appear that the dead cougar in Chicago still has folks riled up. Here's another sampling from the scores of comments we've received at L.A. Unleashed:

OK, so next time our Chicago police officers find another cougar within our city limits, they'll catch it. ...BUT... please do drop them a line ahead of time to tell them where you would like them to ship it for a live re-release in LA. Besides, we've got our hands full with the Cubs.

In the meantime, Timothy J. McNulty, the public editor of the Chicago Tribune, writes about how the story played out in print and on the Web.

For two days, thousands of Web users posted comments, many of them criticizing police for shooting the animal. Others argued that police were right to kill the cougar to prevent the large feline from escaping back into the city streets. A second-day story exploring how the animal possibly made its way from the Black Hills of South Dakota via Wisconsin added even more comments.

The newspaper, McNulty wrote, underplayed the story the first day.

-- Alice Short

Photo: Chicago Tribune

5:42 PM, April 15, 2008


Chicago residents today were puzzled, to say the least, by how a wild cougar had come to roam loose in the city's North Side and suburbs Monday. Officials on Tuesday defended their decision to kill it, the Chicago Tribune reports.

The cougar was a male wild cat, not an escaped captive animal, Cook County Animal and Rabies Control administrator Donna Alexander said Tuesday afternoon.

"He did not have any identifying marks as if he had been owned. He was a wild cat," Alexander said. "He was a pretty vicious guy out there in the wild, fending for himself, so the possibility of an attack was there," Alexander said.

Though it is still unclear where the cougar came from, by late Monday the animal lay dead in an alley, shot by police who said they feared it would attack them.

Chicago Police Capt. Mike Ryan said the cougar tried to attack the officers when they tried to contain it. Police said they could not tranquilize the animal because police officers typically do not carry tranquilizer guns...

"It was turning on the officers," Ryan said. "There was no way to take it into custody."

-- Tony Barboza

Photo: Candice C. Cusic/Chicago Tribune