Visitors to Elm Springs, Arkansas may be surprised to find a mountain lion out and about in a local backyard. The property is owned by Cheryl and Mark Swarthout, who became enamored with the large cat when they started taking care of it two months ago. Originally kept by one of their friends, the Swarthouts are now the primary caretakers of “Rocky,” a young male mountain lion.
According to 40/29 News, the couple has been raising animals in their home for years and knew fully well that keeping the big cat went against regulations. The Swarthouts are planning to turn the mountain lion over to the Arkansas Game and Fish department within a week. In the meantime, the couple believes the cat is harmless.
“He couldn’t hurt anybody even if he wanted to. He was de-clawed when he was young and that cripples him,” said Mark Swarthout.
Their neighbors seem to have the same idea and regularly visit the animal, sometimes with children. While the cat is claimed to have been de-clawed, it must be stressed that mountain lions, like most big cats, have powerful jaws that are meant to kill and carry prey. Although this particular mountain lion has been living with humans since it was a cub, wild animals can never be tamed to the point of a domesticated animal, such as the household cat.
Anyone who wishes to keep and maintain a large captive carnivore in Arkansas requires a permit, liability insurance, and is required to ensure that the animals remain under strict guidelines.
The interview with Mark Swarthout can be seen below: