Like all wild cats, African servals are built to kill. Give one cocaine and you’ve got something far more terrifying than Cocaine Bear on your hands.
As authorities cite, there’s no indication of how the serval – kept illegally by an Ohio owner – got ahold of the drug. But once it did, things got out of hand pretty fast. Details are just now emerging, but this truly wild event took place in January when the 30+ pound cat escaped from his owner’s vehicle in Cincinnati’s Oakley neighborhood.
An (obviously) exotic species, owning an African serval is illegal in Ohio, so the cat’s proprietor was first arrested. Once free, Amiry, our cocaine-fueled cat in question, took to the trees in a panic and wouldn’t come down.
Locals thought they’d spotted a “leopard,” PEOPLE reports, and the cats are often mistaken for cheetahs, too, given their prominent black spots on yellow-gold coats. But Amiry is indeed an African serval – a species famed for their remarkable jumping and hunting abilities. So, again, cocaine is the last thing this feline needs. Especially when local animal officials are the ones who have to trap him for his own safety.
Hamilton County Dog Wardens and Cincinnati Animal CARE responded. “We got called in to get the cat out of the tree,” Ray Anderson of CARE told Fox 19. “[They weren’t] sure what they were dealing with. Hindsight being 20/20, it probably would have involved a whole lot more people.”
African Serval’s Toxicology Report Tests Positive for Cocaine
Amid the chaos, Amiry’s leg was inadvertently broken while rescuers struggled to get her contained. This poor cat was full of cocaine, remember. But local officials managed to get her to CARE’s facility, where the African serval’s toxicology report showed said cocaine.
“It did come back positive for cocaine,” Anderson adds. “Now, we can’t say how the animal got the cocaine in the system. I don’t know if it was environmental or experimental.”
Whatever the case, this is a laundry list of things that should never happen to a wild African cat. As a result, Amiry was taken to the Cincinnati Zoo where keepers could properly rehabilitate her.
“The serval has been receiving veterinary care in our Animal Health Center since he was brought here,” a zoo spokesman cites. “He’s doing well, and the next step will be for our Cat Ambassador Program team to work with him and determine if he’s a good fit to be an ambassador animal.”
As someone who worked alongside our Nashville Zoo‘s late, beloved Bailey the African serval for years, I’m happy this cat will now be able to recoup in an environment far more akin to her species’ natural surroundings. A house, yard, or car are no place for a wild animal. And since she’s been habituated to humans (and likely the result of illegal pet trading), a zoo is best case scenario for this beauty.
Oddly, however, WLWT-TV adds one last button to the cat’s story. Despite possessing him being illegal, Amiry’s owner will not face charges as they’re “cooperating with investigators.”
What a story.