While “Cocaine Bear” is taking in millions at the box office, the Cincinnati Zoo is taking care of a cocaine cat.
The Cincinnati Zoo announced on Tuesday that they are taking care of an African serval named Amiry. The cat was involved in a traffic stop in late January; it escaped its owner’s car when police arrested him and ran up a tree, breaking its leg in the process. Animal welfare experts said the cat tested positive for cocaine.
“The serval has been receiving veterinary care in our Animal Health Center since he was brought here,” the zoo said in a statement to local news outlet Fox 19 Tuesday. “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. He will likely be behind the scenes for a while.”
Police first discovered the cat during a traffic stop on January 28. While they were arresting the owner, the cat jumped out of the car and ran up a tree. Authorities initially said the cat was a leopard, and the Hamilton County Dog Warden, along with Cincinnati Animal CARE, a local animal shelter, were called in to rescue it.
Cincinnati Animal CARE spokesman Ray Anderson said rescuers weren’t sure what they were dealing with at first. According to Anderson, shelter expert thought it was an F1 Savannah, a hybrid breed of cat that comes from breeding a domestic house cat and a serval. The rescuers then turned the serval over to an exotic big cat expert, who reportedly told shelter employees, “’I’d rather deal with a tiger.’” A toxicology test informed them why: the cat tested positive for cocaine in its system.
“It did come back positive for cocaine,” Anderson said. “Now, we can’t say how the animal got the cocaine in the system. I don’t know if it was environmental or experimental.”
“Hindsight being 20/20, it probably would have involved a whole lot more people,” Anderson added.
Unfortunately, the serval broke its leg during the rescue. “In the process of getting the cat out of the tree… obviously, the cat didn’t want to get out of the tree… and our officers were working really hard to make sure they didn’t lose the cat in the process… Yeah, the leg was broken in the process,” Anderson recounted.
The cat was then transferred to the Cincinnati Zoo for further medical care. The zoo told WLWT that it will place Amiry in its Cat Ambassador Program soon at the zoo to work with trainers. He will not be visible to the public for a while, but if he works well with the trainers, the zoo plans to keep him.
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Servals are native to sub-Saharan Africa. They can grow between 21 and 24 inches tall, and weigh 20-40 lbs. They can jump as high as 7 feet in the air, and climb trees as high as 30 feet.
The whole incident comes while the movie “Cocaine Bear” is hitting theaters around the country. The film came out on February 24, a month after the cat was first rescued. The film is very loosely based on the story of a 175-lb. black bear that died after ingesting cocaine dropped out of a plane in a duffel bag by notorious drug dealer Andrew Thornton. In the film, however, the bear doesn’t simply die, but goes on a cocaine-fueled rampage before dying.