Escaping clouded leopard found at Dallas Zoo after fence was cut, police say

A missing clouded leopard was found safe Friday afternoon after escaping from an enclosure at the Dallas Zoo hours earlier, zoo officials announced.

The clouded leopard, named Nova, “was located very close to its pristine habitat and the team was able to secure her safely by 5:15 p.m.,” the zoo said. tweets.

Dallas police opened a criminal investigation Friday after determining that the fence in Nova’s enclosure had been intentionally severed, police and the zoo said.

On Saturday, police said people used cutting tools to make an opening in a fence in the leopard’s habitat. Police said similar wounds were found in the habitat of a species of monkey called a langur.

All the langurs were identified and “appeared to be unharmed and in no danger,” police said. They said it was unclear whether the two incidents were related.

The zoo was closed for the day Friday as it dealt with the escape of the clouded leopard, which it described as “a serious incident”. Officials said the animal was not in danger.

“We have an ongoing situation at the zoo right now with a Code Blue – a non-dangerous animal that has left its habitat,” the zoo said. tweets Friday morning.

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

Zoo officials don’t think Nova will risk going too far because she is closely related to Luna, who is still in her habitat. And they were right: She was found on zoo property.

Harrison Edel, executive vice president for animal care and conservation at the Dallas Zoo, said Nova likely hid in the treetops after his escape.

Police initially sent a SWAT team to the zoo because they were unsure of the cat’s size, Mitchell said.

The zoo said Saturday that a “too loud” squirrel told staff to look for Nova in an area just as Nova was beginning to emerge from her hiding place.

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

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

Nova and Luna arrive in Dallas

Nova was born at the Houston Zoo in November 2019 along with Luna. On her first birthday, before the Leopards left for Dallas, the Houston agency described Luna as extroverted and Nova as introverted.

“Nova is more cautious and always aware of its surroundings,” it said in a blog post.

The Houston Zoo said in 2020 that both cubs were being trained to return on orders from keepers. “They’ve learned to go into crates voluntarily so they can be transported safely if necessary,” said at the time.

Houston Zoo spokeswoman Jessica Reyes 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 genetic diversity in zoo and aquarium animal populations .

The smallest “big cat”

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

The animal, which inhabits the cloud forests of Southeast Asia, is one of the oldest living cats, according to the Smithsonian’s National Zoo and the Institute of Conservation Biology. The clouded leopard is described as a vulnerable species, the institute said, adding that there are estimated to be fewer than 10,000 adults left in the wild.

Nova likely hunted squirrels and birds on Friday, Edel said.

2004 Gorilla Escape

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

According to zoo records obtained by the Dallas Morning News days later, two teenage boys stood on a trail overlooking the gorilla exhibit and threw ice or rocks at Jabari.

The 13-year-old gorilla escaped his walled yard and went on a rampage, chomping down on a toddler and attacking three others before police stopped him.

Citing the records, the newspaper reported that, according to the records, a tranquilizer gun used by zoo workers jammed and officers opened fire when Jabari came within 15 feet of them with a pair of children’s sandals in his hand.

An injured child was treated at the scene and released from hospital. A woman who was thrown against a wall by a gorilla has been hospitalized with an arm injury.

Rivers Herd, then 3, 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 his mother after the attack that Jabari “tried to eat his head,” his father told NBC News at the time.

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