Caracals are typically found in regions of Africa and northwest India and can weigh anywhere between 25-40 pounds.

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By Joelle Goldstein

June 25, 2019

An Illinois mother and daughter were left injured and terrified after being attacked by a rare exotic cat while walking through their neighborhood.

The large animal, which Bloomington police officials identified as a Caracal, was reportedly living in a nearby home but had escaped, CI Proud reports.

The frightening encounter occurred over the weekend, while a mother and her child were enjoying a Sunday stroll through their Bloomington neighborhood, according to the outlet.

Their walk took a terrifying turn, however, when the pair came across the Caracal which was also walking down the sidewalk before it launched its attack.

Bloomington Police Department responded to the scene just before 11 a.m., where they were reportedly informed by residents that the large cat had pounced on the child before the mother was able to distract it and bring her daughter to safety.

Once police and animal control arrived, the Caracal was shot after it lunged at them, CI Proud reports. Officials were also able to locate the owner of the cat and reportedly issued several ordinance violations.

It is not illegal to own a Caracal in the state of Illinois, though similar animals, such as leopards, ocelots, jaguars, lynx, bobcats, and cheetahs, are prohibited, according to Big Cat Rescue.

The woman and her child luckily did not suffer any life-threatening injuries but were treated for puncture wounds and scratches, CI Proud reports.

Bloomington Police Department did not immediately respond to PEOPLE’s request for comment.

Caracals, which are similar to a lynx, are typically found in regions of Africa and northwest India and can weigh anywhere between 25-40 pounds, according to the Smithsonian National Zoo and Conservation Biology Institute.

They are sometimes referred to as desert lynx because of the long, black-furred tufts on their ears, according to the biology institute.

As carnivores, the Caracal usually preys on birds, rodents, and small antelopes, according to the Smithsonian. Big Cat Rescue reports that they will not hesitate to kill prey larger than themselves.

Caracals, who are excellent jumpers, were also once trained for bird hunting in Iran and India and are capable of knocking down 10-12 birds at once, according to Big Cat Rescue.

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