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SYFY WIRE Cocaine Bear

Cocaine…cat?! Big kitty survives wild drug chase with real-life shades of ‘Cocaine Bear’

A coked-up exotic cat hopped out of a car while cops were making an arrest, and…well, you can sorta guess the rest.

By Benjamin Bullard
Cocaine Bear (2023)

Time has a way of smoothing the shocking into the funny, so maybe it’s still too soon for Cocaine Bear director Elizabeth Banks to sniff out sequel ideas from a recent real-life wild episode that, like her gonzo horror-comedy, involves an animal that allegedly got its paws on human drugs. Then again, there’s gotta be bloody good fun in a story about a big cat going on a coke-fueled rampage….so long as it’s fictional, of course.

A news report out of Ohio sounds ready-made for a Cocaine Bear-style movie treatment ripped straight from the headlines: An escaped exotic African cat reportedly put Cincinnati-area rescuers through the wringer after partaking in an alleged blow trove of still-mysterious origin, testing positive for the powder after trying to fend off advances from its would-be police and animal control helpers.

It all reportedly went down in January, when police in Oakley, Ohio stopped a vehicle and arrested the animal’s owner, while the exotic cat — a 35-pound serval — scampered out of the vehicle and went AWOL in the neighboring suburban wilds. Animal officers located the freaked-out beast high in a tree, leading to a rescue attempt that responders described as equally harrowing for both the humans and the serval. “I’d rather deal with a tiger,” one respondent reportedly confessed, via FOX19 TV news.

RELATED: Is ‘Cocaine Bear’ really based on a true story? Behold the wild tale of the real ‘Pablo Escobear’

Servals are wily, athletic predators even when they’re not yarfing party drugs, capable of leaping 10 vertical feet from a perfect four-legged standstill. This one, though, had something extra in its system: Post-rescue toxicology reports confirmed that the big cat had indeed ingested an unspecified quantity of snout candy prior to its capture.

“It did come back positive for cocaine,” Cincinnati Animal CARE representative Ray Anderson told the local outlet. “Now, we can’t say how the animal got the cocaine in the system. I don’t know if it was environmental or experimental.”

As you might imagine, nabbing the amped-up animal wasn’t exactly a stroll in the park. “Obviously, the cat didn’t want to get out of the tree,” Anderson said, while also observing that the ad hoc rescue effort happened too quickly to give responders an informed idea of what they were up against. “Hindsight being 20/20, it probably would have involved a whole lot more people,” he said.

No humans were harmed during the ordeal, though the same sadly can’t be said for the serval. After being treated for a broken leg, it’s since been continuing its post-cocaine convalescence at the Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Gardens, where “the next step,” a zoo spokesperson told the media, “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.”

If the serval does end up in service as a cat ambassador, at least he’ll have a super-wild story to tell. That’s more than we can say for the fictional big-screen version of his “Pablo Escobear” animal counterpart, who (along with most of the movie’s humans) didn’t sniff the finish line alive in Cocaine Bear.

Head to theaters now to catch Cocaine Bear on the big screen, but be careful — it's getting to be a suburban jungle out there. You can purchase tickets here.