The animal party on Tuesday demanded an investigation into the “tragic” death of the crossbreed Savannah cat who had recently undergone surgery while in the care of authorities after it escaped its owner and injured a child in Limassol.

It also announced a protest outside the attorney general’s office in Nicosia at 11am on Thursday to demand the prosecution of the veterinary services director for his to date “criminal decisions and actions against innocent and defenceless animals”.

Berton was found dead on Tuesday morning just days after the owner of Paphos zoo, where the cat was transferred following his operation, was assuring the animal was in good health.

Initially, media reported the cat, who was taken to Limassol zoo after it attacked a three-year-old boy when it escaped its owner’s supervision, had suffered a heat stroke. However, it was later reported that the cat undergone a surgery for a bowel obstruction.

After the surgery, on August 1, authorities transferred Berton to Paphos zoo, saying there was a trained person to look after him.

Berton’s death “is a tragedy and we are deeply saddened” the animal party said, adding that they believe the cat possibly died due to its suffering over the past two months coupled with the stress after it was taken away from its owner.

“We believe the animal had been in so much pain, had been deprived of the love and compassion of [his] caretaker and that lack may have brought about this tragic outcome.

savannah cat final

Berton before the surgery in the care of veterinary services

“Stress in cats is a very important factor in causing diseases that are sometimes fatal.”

It added that together with the former owner of the Savannah cat, the party will request the agriculture minister to have a forensic examiner present during the necropsy, while arrangements have already been made and an independent private veterinarian will also be present. The necropsy is scheduled for Wednesday.

In its statement, the party also blamed the government over the lack of proper facilities to hold such animals.

The state and state agencies should have had proper licensed and appropriate premises to host animals, the party said, instead of them being taken in zoos as an “easy solution”.

“We believe that responsibility should be attributed to those who either made decisions or were directly involved in this case,” the party added.

The Savannah cat, a crossbreed between a wild serval and domestic cat, is understood to be banned in their entirety in Cyprus, although certain types are allowed in the EU. Limassol municipality had said the animal was imported and held as a pet illegally.