Clouded leopard that escaped at Dallas Zoo is found after enclosure was cut, police say

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A missing clouded leopard was found safely on Friday afternoon after she escaped her enclosure at the Dallas Zoo hours earlier, zoo officials announced.

The clouded leopard, named Nova, “was located very close to its original habitat, and teams were able to safely trap it just before 5:15 pm,” the zoo said. tweeted.

Dallas police launched a criminal investigation on Friday after it was determined that the fence in Nova’s enclosure was intentionally cut, police and the zoo said.

On Saturday, police said a cutting tool was used to create an opening in the leopard’s habitat fence. A similar cut was also found in the habitat of a breed of monkey called a langur, police said.

All langurs were accounted for and “did not appear to be injured or in danger”, police said. They said it was unclear whether the two incidents were related.

The zoo closed on Friday to deal with the clouded leopard’s escape, which it described as “a serious incident”. Authorities said the animal was not dangerous.

“We have an ongoing situation at the zoo right now with a Code Blue – which is a non-dangerous animal that is out of its habitat,” the zoo said. tweeted Friday morning.

Nova likely escaped through what zoo officials initially described as a tear in the mesh of the enclosure she shares with her sister, Luna.

Zoo officials didn’t think Nova would venture very far because she is so close with Luna, who is still in the habitat. They were correct: she was found on zoo property.

Nova likely hid in a treetop after escaping, said Harrison Edell, executive vice president of animal care and conservation at the Dallas Zoo.

Police initially sent a SWAT team to the zoo because they weren’t sure how big the cat was, Mitchell said.

The zoo said on Saturday that an “overly vocal” squirrel tipped staff off to an area to look for Nova, who, at that point, was beginning to emerge from her hiding place.

She was protected and returned to her habitat about 30 minutes later, the zoo said.

Nova was evaluated by veterinarians and animal care staff and returned to her habitat, where she landed on a high branch on Saturday, according to the zoo.

Nova and Luna arrive in Dallas

Nova was born in November 2019 alongside Luna at the Houston Zoo. On its first anniversary, before the Leopards headed to Dallas, the Houston institution described Luna as outgoing and Nova as reserved.

“Nova is a little more cautious, keeping an eye on her surroundings,” he said in a blog post.

Both cubs were being trained to obey the handlers’ commands to return, the Houston Zoo said in 2020. “They have learned to voluntarily go into a crate so they can be transported safely if needed,” it said at the time.

Jessica Reyes, a spokeswoman for the Houston Zoo, said Nova and Luna were sent to the Dallas Zoo in July 2021 based on recommendations from the Association of Zoos and Aquariums to ensure genetically diverse populations of animals in zoos and aquariums.

The smallest of the ‘big cats’

Edell said clouded leopards weigh between 20 and 25 pounds and pose no danger to people. They are among the smallest wild “big cats” in the world (tigers, lions, jaguars, leopards, cheetahs and cougars).

The animals inhabit Southeast Asia’s cloud forests and are one of the oldest cat species, according to the Smithsonian’s National Zoo and the Institute of Conservation Biology. Clouded leopards are described as a vulnerable species, the institute said, adding that fewer than 10,000 adult individuals are estimated to remain in the wild.

Edell said Nova was probably hunting squirrels and birds on Friday.

gorilla escape 2004

On March 18, 2004, a 350-pound gorilla escaped its enclosure at the Dallas Zoo’s 106-acre Wilds of Africa exhibit, injuring four people before being shot dead by police.

Two teenagers standing on a trail overlooking the gorilla exhibit threw ice or rocks at Jabari, according to zoo records obtained by the Dallas Morning News over the next few days.

The 13-year-old gorilla escaped its walled compound and went on a rampage, grabbing one child in its teeth and attacking three others before officers stopped it.

A tranquilizer gun used by zoo staff jammed, according to the records, and police opened fire when Jabari was less than 15 feet from the officers with a pair of children’s sandals in his hand, the newspaper reported, citing those records.

An injured child was treated at the scene and released. A woman thrown against the wall by the gorilla has been hospitalized with injuries to her arm.

Rivers Herd, aged 3 at the time, was seriously injured when he was bitten and scratched by the gorilla. His mother, Keisha Herd, 26, was hospitalized with minor injuries.

The child told her mother after the attack that Jabari “tried to eat her head,” her father told NBC News at the time.

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