COCAINE CAT: Ohio’s answer to Cocaine Bear
March 24, 2023

According to officials at the Cincinnati Animal CARE facility, an exotic cat, known as a serval, has tested positive for cocaine after being rescued in Cincinnati.

The animal, named Amiry, had escaped from a vehicle during a police stop and was rescued by the Hamilton County Dog Wardens, a division of Cincinnati Animal CARE, after climbing a tree. During the rescue attempt, the cat fell from the tree and fractured its leg.

At the shelter, staff took a sample for a DNA test and also tested the animal for narcotics. This is a relatively new procedure for the shelter, which began regularly testing exotic animals for narcotics after a capuchin monkey named Neo tested positive for methamphetamine last year.

The testing confirmed that Amiry was indeed a serval, a medium-sized wild cat native to sub-Saharan Africa, which is illegal to own in Ohio, and that the animal had been exposed to cocaine.

The shelter’s community engagement manager, Ray Anderson, said that the shelter was unable to disclose how much cocaine Amiry had ingested while an investigation into the case is ongoing. “At this time, we have no evidence to tell us that it was intentional,” he said, adding that the cat may have accidentally consumed the drug in the home, in the car, or in the outdoors.

The Cincinnati Zoo has explained that servals are expert hunters that are specially adapted to the needs of their natural habitat, but they do not make good pets. “They spray and mark their territory, need vast amounts of exercise, and specialized care to thrive in human care,” wrote the zoo. The Ohio Dangerous Wild Animals Act prohibits the possession of servals, although “savannah cats,” a popular hybrid created by breeding a serval with a domestic cat, are permitted.

It is unclear whether the owner of Amiry will face any charges for illegal possession of a serval, as the investigation is still ongoing. The Cincinnati Zoo has expressed hope that Amiry will be a strong candidate for their Cat Ambassador Program, where the animal can receive the necessary care and space to thrive.

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