The leopard that went missing at the Dallas Zoo has been located and appears to be doing well after spending hours on the loose.
“We are thrilled to report we located clouded leopard Nova on-grounds at the Zoo this afternoon at approximated 4:40 p.m. She was located very near the original habitat, and teams were able to safely secure her just before 5:15 p.m,” the zoo tweeted shortly after 6.30pm on Friday.
“Initial indications are she is not injured. She is being evaluated by our veterinary staff right now,” the zoo added.
Thezoo was closed as a search was launched to find the leopard, which went missing from its enclosure, officials said. They said that when keepers arrived at the clouded leopard’s habitat on Friday, one of the animals was nowhere to be found.
A “Code Blue” situation was activated and Dallas police were called in to search the zoo for the “non-dangerous” animal.
Zoo officials took to Twitter and called the incident a “serious situation”, but said at the time that they thought the small cat was still on the grounds. It was later found near its enclosure.
“We have an ongoing situation at the Zoo right now with a Code Blue – that is a non-dangerous animal that is out of its habitat. One of our clouded leopards was not in its habitat when the team arrived this morning and is unaccounted for at this time,” the zoo tweeted after Nova went missing. “Dallas PD is onsite assisting with the search efforts. The Zoo is closed today as our teams work to find and recover the animal. Given the nature of these animals, we believe the animal is still on grounds and hiding.”
Zoo officials told reporters that Nova weighs around 25 pounds, is four years old, and posed no threat to humans.
Both of the zoo’s clouded leopards were accounted for at 1am by security staff, the zoo said, adding that they found a rip in the enclosure’s mesh that the cat used to slip out.
The cat was discovered missing during the zoo’s daily morning headcount by staff.
“A leopard and a clouded leopard are dramatically different animals,” zoo executive vice-president Harrison Edell told reporters at a press conference. “Even though this is a small cat and not a tiger or a lion, she still has a full complement of claws and teeth. This is not a house cat. They are absolutely not a danger to humans though. If anything she is real nervous and afraid of people. She is accustomed to people but she’s not tame, she is more likely to avoid people than challenge them.”
Clouded leopards are found in Southeast Asia and China and males grow to be about 50 pounds, according to the Smithsonian Institute.
Females only reach about 25 to 35 pounds and in the wild, they eat monkeys, small deer, and wild boars.
The cats have large paws, are skilled at climbing, and are one of the few animals that can climb down trees headfirst.
“Clouded leopards are not a ‘type’ of leopard as their name implies. They are a separate species of wild cat, as are snow leopards and leopards,” according to the Smithsonian.