A BRIGHOUSE man has admitted keeping a dangerous wild cat without a licence after officers seized an African serval from a home.

William Harris initially applied to Calderdale Council in May last year for a dangerous wild animal licence to keep the serval.

But after outlining conditions to be met before a licence could be issued, officers realised Harris had bought the exotic cat and was keeping it at his sister's home in Southowram.

In September, with help from specialist vets and Ponderosa Zoo in Heckmondwike, they seized the serval, which was living in inadequate conditions and was becoming feral.

Harris pleaded guilty earlier this month to purchasing, transporting and keeping a dangerous wild animal without a licence.

He received a conditional discharge for 12 months and must pay £500 in costs to the Council.

The cat - now known as Venus - is living permanently at Ponderosa in a large enclosure.

Andrew Pitts, Calderdale Council’s assistant director for neighbourhoods, said: “This case highlights the broad range of our enforcement work and sends out a clear message that we’ll do everything possible to ensure Calderdale communities stay safe. Mr Harris was brought to justice thanks to excellent joint working within the Council and with partner organisations.

“Keeping a wild animal is not the same as having a domestic pet. They have very specific needs and strict rules must be followed to ensure their welfare and public safety – that’s why we have a licensing system and won’t hesitate to enforce and prosecute. We urge anyone thinking of getting an exotic animal to seriously consider all the requirements and possible risks, to decide whether it’s a realistic option.”