Amiry’s health has improved enough after receiving care in our veterinary facility that we were able to move him to the Cat Ambassador Program. He is still getting used to his new environment and caregivers and is eating well and moving around his new habit indoors and outside.
Why Exotic Animals Don’t Make Good Pets
Aside from it being illegal to own a serval in Ohio, there are plenty of other reasons why servals and other exotic animals don’t make good pets.
Servals are wild animals native to sub-Saharan Africa. They are excellent hunters and uniquely adapted to thrive in their natural environment. They have long legs to reach into burrows to hunt mice and also to jump up to five times the length of their bodies to jump into the air to catch birds in the sky. They have sharp claws and canine teeth that allow them to catch their prey. All of these unique adaptations are great in their natural environment, not good for being a pet in someone’s home. They spray and mark their territory, need vast amounts of exercise and specialized care to thrive in human care.
At a place like the Cincinnati Zoo, we are able to provide our servals, and every animal, with the space, exercise, mental and physical enrichment that each species needs. Aside from that, they have a vet staff on site, a formulated diet that a full-time nutritionist calibrates, a department to order the food, a department to deliver the food and five full-time trainers who care for them and are specialized in carnivore care and training. This type of care cannot be provided in a home.
The only cat species that should be kept as a pet is the domestic housecat. Housecats are perfect companions in homes and make great pets. Be sure to try and adopt, spay/neuter and keep your housecats indoors.
Official statement from Cincinnati Animal CARE
By now, you have likely heard the story of Amiry, aka “Cocaine Cat,” the serval who was rescued by Hamilton County Dog Wardens after escaping from a police stop and climbing up a tree. With this story now making national and global news, we wanted to speak with our community directly about what happened.
In the early morning of January 28, Hamilton County Dog Wardens (a division of Cincinnati Animal CARE) responded to reports of a “leopard” or “exotic cat” being spotted in a tree in Oakley. Upon arrival, Dog Wardens were able to retrieve Amiry from the tree and brought him to Cincinnati Animal CARE. CAC’s medical team first called in a big cat expert who had worked on the Zanesville tragedy from a few years back. Our initial thought was the cat was a hybrid F1 Savannah, which are legal to own in Ohio, but our expert was pretty certain Amiry was a serval, which are illegal.
CAC’s Medical Team examined Amiry, took a sample for a DNA test and tested him for narcotics, which has become standard procedure for “exotic” animals after we seized custody of Neo, a capuchin monkey who tested positive for methamphetamine in early 2022. Amiry tested positive for exposure to cocaine and the DNA test concluded he was indeed a serval. Our facility is not equipped to house wildlife and he was safely transported to USA Today’s Best Zoo in the US, the Cincinnati Zoo.
CAC & Hamilton County Dog Warden’s #1 priority was getting Amiry safely placed as quickly as possible. The fastest way to accomplish this was for his owner to cooperate with our investigation and relinquish Amiry into our custody without getting tied up in court. His owner was cooperative and paid for Amiry’s care until all ownership transfers were finalized, which is when this story went public. The case does remain open pending additional evidence and the Ohio Department of Agriculture is also investigating. We ask anyone with any information to please contact Hamilton County Dog Wardens at 513-541-7387.
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. 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.
If you feel so inclined to support the efforts of CAC, you can make a donation at cincinnatianimalcare.org/donate
And now that Amiry is safe, we remind our community that there will be thousands of dogs, cats, and other animals in need of rescue entering our facility this year who will not receive this level of publicity. Please visit your county animal shelter before going to breeder when searching for your next pet!