We wish we could say this story is a viral marketing stunt for the recently-released movie Cocaine Bear, but authorities say they’re not joking.
Cincinnati police pulled a car over in what they thought would be a routine traffic stop in late January. But when officers approached the vehicle a large cat inside got spooked, jumped through an open window and took refuge in a tree.
Cops called the city’s animal control staff, initially reporting a “leopard” on the loose.
“[They weren’t] sure what they were dealing with,” Cincinnati Animal Care’s Ray Anderson told WXIX. “Hindsight being 20/20, it probably would have involved a whole lot more people.”
Animal control officers who arrived on scene thought they were dealing with an F1 Savannah, a hybrid between a domestic cat and a serval, and were able to get the cat down from the tree, but not without some difficulty. The exotic wildcat suffered a broken leg in the process. (See video of the cat in the tree here.)
They brought the injured cat to the Cincinnati Zoo, where they were in store for several surprises: The felid was a serval, a medium-size African wildcat, and blood tests showed it had cocaine in its system. A subsequent DNA test confirmed the cat is a serval and not a Savannah hybrid.
The responding animal control officers were “pretty lucky because this cat could’ve shredded us” Chief Troy Taylor of the Hamilton County Dog Warden’s Office told Cincinnati’s WKRC.
The serval, whose name is Amorie, remains in the zoo’s care for now. Taylor said Amorie was given pain meds during treatment and is recovering. It’s not clear what will happen to him, and lots of questions about the incident remain unanswered. Local media reports say the driver was arrested during the traffic stop, but also said the driver is cooperating and has not been charged in relation to the cat or the narcotics.
It’s illegal to own wild cats in Ohio, and unless the serval found himself a bag of cocaine in the fleeting seconds between bolting from the car and scurrying up a tree, it seems the driver has some ‘splainin’ to do.