Social Navigation

‘Cocaine Cat’ Escaped Owner, Now Going to Live at the Cincinnati Zoo


An African serval cat found with cocaine in its system after escaping a traffic control is now calling the Cincinnati Zoo, much to the delight of social media users still amused by the recent release of the movie “Cocaine Bear” ..”

The wild cat story has gained popularity online, where users enjoyed the absurdity of the horror comedywhich is based on the true story of a 175-pound black bear found dead near a duffel bag and about $2 million worth of cocaine. Social media users have predictably dubbed the serval “cocaine cat.”

The sleek cat escaped after its owner was apprehended by police on Jan. 28, according to local animal control officials. He jumped out of the car into a tree.

Ray Anderson of Cincinnati Animal CARE said the local animal control, Hamilton County Dog Wardens, received a call at around 2 a.m. in the Oakley residential area.

In Ohio, it is illegal to own the animals, which can weigh up to 40 pounds. During the rescue mission, the cat named Amiry broke his leg and became more agitated.

Once Amiry was admitted for medical care by Cincinnati Animal CARE, the team conducted a drug test where they determined that Amiry had cocaine in his system.

It is not the first time that Cincinnati Animal CARE, which functioned as the county animal shelter, has tested positive for drugs on wild animals. In 2022, the group took in a capuchin monkey named Neo who had methamphetamine in his system.

Since that case, it has become standard procedure for the shelter to drug test exotic animals that arrive at the shelter, Anderson said.

Anderson confirmed that Amiry’s owner transferred custody of the cat to Cincinnati Animal CARE before placing it in the care of the Cincinnati Zoo.

Servals have grown in popularity with some appearing as pets in TikTok videos. Julie Sheldon, clinical assistant professor of zoo medicine at the University of Tennessee, said a serval is a big responsibility that requires a balanced diet and specialized care beyond a house cat.

“There are much better options for pets that are much safer, economically smarter and more sustainable,” she said.

The Cincinnati Animal CARE receives about 8,000 animals a year, Anderson said.

Instead of trying to keep a wild animal as a pet, Anderson said, “You could save a ton of money and buy a really great pet cat from your local animal shelter.”

Joanna Swanson

Joanna Swanson is Europe correspondent at the Thomson Reuters Foundation based in Brussels covering politics, culture, business, climate change, society, economies and inclusive tech. With specific focus in breaking news, she has covered some of the world's most significant stories.