Police: Man drunkenly broke into Chattanooga nature center, loosed bobcat


Officials at Reflection Riding Arboretum & Nature Center in Chattanooga say someone stole their bobcat Evi – and they think she was taken for the illegal exotic pet trade. (Image: Reflection Riding Arboretum & Nature Center)

CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (AP) — Police in Chattanooga say a man told officers he drunkenly broke into a nature center and tried to play fetch with a bobcat, accidentally allowing the creature to escape.

The Times Free Press reports 21-year-old Cayden Melia must turn himself over to a county jail by July 14.

An affidavit says Melia told police that he had been drinking when he broke into Chattanooga’s Reflection Riding Arboretum and Nature Center last month. He said he used a rock to break into Evi the bobcat’s cage and tried to play fetch with her, but she escaped.

A skinnier and slightly wounded Evi later returned to her cage. Melia was cited in lieu of an arrest on charges of criminal trespassing and vandalism. Authorities say a second person may have been involved.

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