After a long inter-organizational investigation that first began at the Denver Airport, a rare species of wild cat will now remain in Colorado, as a permanent resident of the Denver Zoo.

In 2022, a four-year-old female Geoffroy’s cat was discovered while being illegally transported aboard a commercial flight.  According to the Daily Camera, the cat escaped its carrier and was reportedly scratching and biting passengers on board. The feline was safely confiscated by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services at DIA and taken to Colorado Parks and Wildlife's rehabilitation center facility.

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While the investigation was underway, CPW reached out to the Denver Zoo for assistance in housing the seven pound cat. The zoo gladly stepped in to help, providing the cat with expert care, a safe home, and an appropriate diet. During this time, she remained behind the scenes at the The Edge exhibit. The animal care team fondly named her Dia, paying homage to the location where she was found.

Once the investigation closed, the zoo learned that Dia would be able to permanently remain in their care. For now, she will stay behind the scenes in the Felines Building, but will eventually move to a different area of the facility.

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Geoffroy’s cats are small, wild cats native to southern and central regions of South America. Although they have a similar size and appearance to domestic cats (and are adorable!), they are a wild species and should not be considered pets. Unfortunately, Geoffroy’s cats are a popular species in the exotic pet trade and are sometimes bred with domestic cats to produce “safari cats".

These carnivorous cats are named after 19th-century French naturalist and zoologist, Geoffroy Saint-Hilaire. They are nocturnal, secretive creatures that spend most of their time up in trees. Geoffroy’s cats can live up to 18 years in the wild.

Uncommon Animals of Colorado

It's pretty rare to see these types of wildlife in Colorado.

Gallery Credit: Kelsey Nistel