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 delighted to report that we located nebulous leopard Nova on the grounds of the zoo this afternoon at approximately 4:40 p.m. She was located very close to the original habitat and teams were able to secure her safely just before 5:15 p.m., the zoo tweeted shortly after 6:30 p.m. on Friday.
“Early indications are that she is uninjured. She is being evaluated by our veterinary staff at this time,” the zoo said. added.
The zoo was closed as a search was launched for the leopard, which disappeared from its enclosure, officials said. They said when rangers arrived at the clouded leopard habitat on Friday, one of the animals was nowhere to be found.
A “Code Blue” situation was activated and Dallas police were called 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 they believed the little cat was still on the grounds. He was later found near his enclosure.
“We currently have an ongoing situation at the zoo with a code blue – meaning a non-hazardous 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 missing at the moment,” the zoo tweeted after Nova disappeared. “Dallas PD is on hand to assist with search efforts. The Zoo is closed today as our teams are working to find and recover the animal. Given the nature of these animals, we believe that the animal is still on the ground and hiding.
Zoo officials told reporters Nova weighed about 25 pounds, was four years old, and posed no threat to humans.
The two leopards at the zoo were found at 1 a.m. by security staff, the zoo said, adding that they found a tear in the mesh of the enclosure the cat used to walk out of.
The cat was discovered missing during the zoo’s daily head count by staff.
“A leopard and a clouded leopard are radically different animals,” zoo executive vice president Harrison Edell told a news conference. “Even though it is a small cat and not a tiger or a lion, it still has a full set of claws and teeth. It is not a house cat. They are absolutely not not dangerous to humans. If anything, she’s really nervous and scared of people. She’s used to people but she’s not tame, she’s more likely to avoid people than challenge them.
Clouded leopards are found in Southeast Asia and China, and males weigh around 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 boar.
Cats have large legs, are adept at climbing, and are one of the few animals that can descend trees headfirst.
“Clouded leopards are not a ‘type’ of leopard as their name suggests. They are a distinct species of wildcat, just like snow leopards and leopards,” according to the Smithsonian.