A coyote living in an outdoor enclosure at a north suburban forest preserve is at the center of much controversy, as animal rights activists urge Cook County officials to release him.
Actor and comedian Ricky Gervais is the latest voice to weigh in on the matter. "The Office" star announced Tuesday that he is backing the demands of In Defense of Animals and Chicago Alliance for Animals to transfer Rocky, the coyote, to a sanctuary in Colorado.
Since 2018, the 4-year-old coyote, who was initially mistaken for a dog, has lived at the River Trail Nature Center in Northbrook.
“Rocky should not suffer the consequences of human error – it’s not his fault that people mistook him for a German Shepherd puppy," Gervais said in a statement.
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When Rocky was revealed to be a coyote, he was surrendered to a control facility in Tennessee and transferred to Illinois, at which point he was deemed unsuitable to be released back into the wild for having "imprinted on humans," according to the Chicago Alliance for Animals.
Activists have called on Cook County officials to transfer Rocky to The Wild Animal Sanctuary in Colorado, a facility they said is better fit for him and could ease his stress, which has led him to pace around and bite his paws.
"His physical and psychological deterioration must end," Gervais said. "The fact that Rocky is on antidepressant and anti-anxiety medications is evidence of his inhumane captivity, and urgent action is needed to help him."
In Defense of Animals launched an online petition to support the coyote's relocation, and it has earned more than 20,600 supporters.
“For his well-being and his long-term health, Rocky should be surrendered to The Wild Animal Sanctuary in Colorado,” Brittany Michelson, an In Defense of Animals campaigner, said in a statement. “Just because he interacted with humans instead of other coyotes at a young age, doesn't mean he should be deprived of the opportunity to socialize with members of his own species.”