Police are investigating after missing leopard Nova was found at Dallas Zoo
DALLAS (AP) – Officials at the Dallas Zoo said Friday a missing clouded leopard has been found after a days-long search. Evidence has been found that the fence of the kitten’s habitat was “deliberately” cut, police said.
The zoo tweeted that the cat, named Nova, who weighs around 20 to 25 pounds, appeared unharmed and was found near its original habitat. The raid had closed Texas’ largest zoo to visitors while staff and police combed the 40-acre site.
The zoo announced Nova had been found just moments after a news conference where police said a criminal investigation had been launched. Police and zoo officials said they reviewed the surveillance footage but declined to say what it showed or if there were any potential suspects.
“We believe this was a premeditated act,” Dallas Police Sgt. Warren Mitchell said.
Mitchell said Dallas police initially sent SWAT officers to the zoo because they didn’t understand the size of a clouded leopard. Police drones helped search the zoo grounds, including the trees. Harrison Edell, executive vice president of Animal Care and Conservation at the Dallas Zoo, said clouded leopards like to climb.
The zoo tweeted earlier in the day that the missing cat was a “grave situation,” but officials said the animal posed no danger.
Another clouded leopard in the zoo, Nova’s sister, did not leave its habitat.
Animals have escaped from exhibits at the Dallas Zoo before. Most notably in 2004, when a 154-kilogram gorilla named Jabari jumped over a wall and went on a 40-minute killing spree, injuring three people before police shot the animal dead.
We are pleased to announce that we found the clouded leopard Nova on the zoo grounds around 4:40 p.m. this afternoon. She was very close to the original habitat and teams were able to safely secure her just before 5:15 p.m pic.twitter.com/XucvBrQO4V
— Dallas Zoo (@DallasZoo) January 13, 2023