Ex-soldier who fled with puma turns himself over to police

Agence France-Presse
Zoo officials say people should be aware that big cats are not pets

BIG CAT. Picture released by Aton Chile showing an approximately one-year-old puma in the streets of Santiago on March 24, 2020. Photo by Andres Pina/AFP

WARSAW, Poland – A former Polish soldier who fled into a forest with his pet puma to avoid handing it over to a zoo, gave himself up to police on Sunday, July 12, after a three-day manhunt.

About 200 officers were deployed to track down the former Afghan war veteran and the big cat.

The former soldier “Kamil Stanek voluntarily turned himself over to police in Zawiercie and was later released,” the police in the southern Polish city said on their Facebook page. 

The puma was transferred to the care of a zoo following the drama.

“We’re pleased to report that (the puma called) Nubia is surrounded by the professional care of employees at the zoo in Chorzow,” the police said.

Keeping such dangerous animals is banned in Poland, and the man had been ordered by a court to turn the animal over to a zoo.

Zoo officials said people should be aware that big cats were not pets.

“It’s not a cuddly toy. It’s one of the most dangerous animals in the world and it could be a real threat to people’s lives,” said Ewa Zgrabczynska, head of the Poznan zoo in western Poland.

Zoo workers went to Stanek’s house in southern Poland on Friday but were met with a hostile response.

The army veteran threatened them with a knife before fleeing with the puma on a leash, according to local media reports.

Gazeta Wyborcza newspaper said the man had bought the animal 6 years ago in the Czech Republic and had been raising it at his home.

Stanek’s bid to keep Nubia had won support in some quarters.

“Love for the animal and a heartless court decision forced him to flee. He is hiding in the forest,” Dariusz Wojtowicz, mayor of the southern town of Myslowice, said on Facebook.

“Maybe someone could take a more humane look at this case,” he said, posting images of the man he identified as Kamil S. and the puma. – Rappler.com

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