VIRGINIA BEACH

Rocky might just have a new home.

After escaping his home in Kitty Hawk, N.C., in October of last year, the serval cat has been sighted in northern Virginia Beach dozens of times.

And despite an extensive trapping effort by Virginia Beach Animal Control, he continues to roam free.

"He has a plethora of food and resources," animal control supervisor Meghan Conti said of the cat's apparent location in and around North Landing State Park. "He seems to like wild food better than the sliced up chicken we put in the traps.

"I guess he likes his food with feathers and fur."

Rocky is a breed of cat native to Africa. Servals can grow anywhere from 20 to 40 pounds, standing as high as 24 inches at the shoulder. His markings give him the appearance of being a small leopard.

Someone spotted Rocky near the park in early April and animal control officials identified his paw prints.

Brian Hankins of Kitty Hawk, who has claimed to be the owner, posted on Facebook a picture he says is Rocky. He gave assurances that the cat was safe and has been helping with efforts to recapture him.

Rocky has been quite the escape artist since Hankins took ownership of him. But this is the longest he's been away from home. A GPS tracking collar that appears to still be around his neck, went dead shortly after he escaped and has been useless in helping to find him.

Several residents of the North Beach area have taken pictures of Rocky the past two weeks and a security camera recorded footage of cat roaming a back yard at night.

Just how Rocky made it to Virginia Beach from the northern Outer Banks is not clear, but Conti said in April that it's nothing for such an animal to travel up to 20 miles a day, mostly at night when it is less likely to be seen.

"We're doing all we can do, but we have lots of things to deal with in this city," Conti said. "We check the traps and re-bait them when we can.

"But he's very illusive and seems to like where he's at."

Anyone who sees Rocky is asked to call Animal Control dispatch at 757-385-5000.

Lee Tolliver, 757-222-5844, lee.tolliver@pilotonline.com

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