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Cocaine cat: Serval found in Cincinnati tree tests positive for drugs

A large cat called a serval rescued from a tree in Cincinnati earlier this year tested positive for cocaine, an animal rescue group said Thursday.

Fresh off the theatrical release of "Cocaine Bear," news of the serval's drug test quickly led to the moniker "cocaine cat" trending on Twitter. The big cat's name is Amiry.

A serval rescued from a tree in Cincinnati later tested positive for cocaine, an animal rescue group said.  Ray Anderson/Cincinnati Animal CARE

Animal control officials said Amiry escaped when his owner was pulled over by police on Jan. 28. The big cat leapt from the car into a tree. Hamilton County Dog Wardens responded to reports of a "leopard" in a tree around 2 a.m., Cincinnati Animal CARE's Ray Anderson said. They retrieved Amiry and brought him to the organization's facility. 

The organization's medical team looked over the big cat, who'd suffered a broken leg during the retrieval, Anderson said. They also performed a DNA test, which determined the cat was a serval, not a leopard, and that he had been exposed to cocaine. 

"I cannot speak to how he was exposed to cocaine at this time," Anderson said. 

It's not the first time that Cincinnati Animal CARE has had a wild animal test positive for drugs. In 2022, the group took in a capuchin monkey, named Neo, that had methamphetamine in its system.

Since that case, the shelter has made it a standard practice to test exotic animals for drugs when they arrive at the shelter, Anderson said.

Servals are illegal to own in Ohio, but charges are not currently being pressed against Amiry's owner, Anderson said. The small to medium-size African wild cats top out at 40 pounds, according to the African Wildlife Foundation, and have yellowish coats with black spots.

The owner has cooperated with the investigation and given up custody of Amiry, Anderson said. The serval was brought to the Cincinnati Zoo after he received treatment from the CAC.

"We're extremely proud of the work done in this case by the Dog Wardens and Medical Staff and are immensely appreciative to the Cincinnati Zoo for getting Amiry the care he needs," the organization posted on Facebook. "We ask that our community please be respectful of the Zoo's privacy at this time as they are working diligently to determine next steps."

In recent months, animal rescuers captured a large cat roaming around the Long Island section of New York. A serval was also found in a Massachusetts neighborhood early in 2022. 

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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