This applies to the present (May 29, 2022). Under Ohio statute: Chapter 935. Dangerous Wild Animals and Restricted Snakes, section §935.01 (C)(7)(e) it is illegal for an individual Ohio citizen to possess and own a serval as they are classified as a dangerous wild animal. However, under section 935.02, the following circumstances and organisations are exempt. Note: F1 and below Savannah cats (serval x domestic cat hybrids) are except from this law.
- A person who has been issued with a licence by the United States Department of Agriculture under the federal Animal Welfare Act;
- A person is in the process of becoming an accredited member of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums or the Zoological Association of America as determined by the Director of Agriculture;
- An organisation which is in the process of being accredited or is accredited as an animal sanctuary or wildlife sanctuary;
- A research facility which is accredited by the Association for the Assessment of Accreditation of Laboratory Animal Care International;
- An accredited circus;
- A wildlife rehabilitation facility which has been issued with a permit by the chief of the division of wildlife;
- A veterinarian providing temporary veterinary care;
- An individual who does not live in Ohio but is travelling through the state with a dangerous wild animal such as a serval;
- Under certain criteria, an educational institution that displays a single dangerous wild animal as a sports mascot;
As stated, the serval is listed as a “dangerous wild animal” under Ohio law section §935.01 (C)(7)(e).
As a serval is classified as a dangerous wild animal it needs to be registered with the state under section 935.04.
The Director of Agriculture can recommend the species of animals to be included in the definition of “dangerous wild animal”.
The prohibition commenced on January 1, 2014. The law also prevents individuals from buying, selling, trading or transferring possession and ownership of a serval and other dangerous wild animals as specified under the Act.
I have been in an enclosure with adult male and female servals. They are large cats. They are intimidating. They can be domesticated to a certain extent and are sometimes pets. Sometimes owners declaw servals which is an indication of failure in the relationship. I would judge them to be potentially dangerous even when semi-domesticated. They can certainly do serious harm if they wanted to attack you.
Below are some more articles on animal laws.