Dangerous wild animal?

This is Sheeba, a brown-spotted Bengal, and one of the Jordan-Maynard cats. The Bengal is a rather new breed, created by hybridising the wild Asian Leopard Cat with domestic breeds including the Abyssinian and Burmese. It is regarded with some disdain by proponents of more established breeds, but is allegedly beloved by celebrities including Rolf Harris, Esther Rantzen, Mohammed al Fayed, and, umm, Jeffrey Archer.

Notwithstanding her exalted pedigree, Sheeba seems to enjoy life as domestic moggie and, aside from occasionally biting my ankles when supper is late, shows no tendency to terrorism. So we were rather surprised to read this article in the Hampshire Chronicle, 28th January 2005:

An American woman living in Winchester is having trouble being reunited with her cat because its breed has been classed as dangerous. Tina Hulme’s domesticated Bengal cat, Ava, is descended from the Asian Bengal leopard cat and the Department for Environment and Rural Affairs has classed it as a dangerous animal. Two-year-old Ava is still in the States, but Tina will have to apply for a special licence to bring her into the UK. Six months quarantine will follow, and then Tina’s home will have to be inspected by a Defra agent to ensure it is suitable to house a “wild animal”. Said Tina: “I just want my baby back.”

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