AMHERST, N.Y. (WIVB) — An Amherst man has been sentenced to 18 months in prison for trafficking African wild cats. According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Christopher Casacci, 39, violated the Lacey Act and Animal Welfare Act by advertising, importing, and selling exotic African cats through “ExoticCubs.com.”
Casacci imported and sold dozens of caracals and servals for $7,500 to $10,000 each between February and June of 2018. He reportedly claimed to operate as a big cat rescue in an attempt to avoid New York’s laws against possessing and selling wild animals.
The attorney’s office also says he falsified transport documents to hide the cats’ species, calling them “Bengal” or “Savannah” cats—designer-bred animals descended from a mix of domesticated felines and wild cats.
All of the animals were sold while they were still kittens. Many of them died while in Casacci’s care or days after he sold them, and multiple live kittens were seized during the investigation. They are now permanently living in animal sanctuaries.