Dallas zoo closed due to missing clouded leopard

The Dallas Zoo was closed on Friday after a clouded leopard got out of its habitat and went missing for much of the day before being found in the zoo.

The zoo tweeted at 11:21 a.m. Eastern Time that it had issued a “Code Blue,” signaling that a nondangerous animal was out of its habitat. It said the leopard was not there when the zoo’s team arrived in the morning, and the Dallas Police Department was on site to assist 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,” the zoo said, adding that their focus is to find the leopard.

It said in another tweet later in the day that the leopard is an adult and weighs 25 pounds. The Dallas Morning News reported that the leopard is a 4-year-old female named Nova.

The Morning News reported that the zoo’s executive vice president for animal care and conservation, Harrison Edell, said at a news conference that the zoo’s staff members found a tear in the mesh that surrounds Nova’s enclosure and were looking for her in trees with binoculars.

Edell said Nova would most likely climb trees and hunt squirrels and birds but stay out of people’s way.

The zoo tweeted that Nova was found near her habitat around 4:40 p.m. Central Time, and staff were able to secure her just before 5:15. It said she appeared to not be injured, but staff were evaluating her.

The zoo tweeted that Nova’s habitat is a dense forest, and the leopard often spends time in the treetops.

“To set some minds at ease, if she has made her way off-grounds, this animal isn’t a greater risk for pets than animals native to North Texas that roam our neighborhoods, but if you feel more comfortable bringing pets inside, please do,” the zoo said.

The Morning News reported that the zoo debuted Nova and her sister, Luna, as its first two clouded leopards in September 2021. An assistant zoo manager for the Dallas Zoo told the outlet that the animal is named for its large, cloudlike spots all over its body.

– Updated 9:51 p.m.

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