Chinese Zoo Kept the Escape of 3 Leopards a Secret; 2 Big Cats Captured With 1 Still on the Loose
Search teams found and captured two of the juvenile leopards, which were found with the help of drones and hunting dogs. Park officials said they were in good health, the statement said. However, the third leopard is still on the loose.
The Hangzhou Safari Park sent out a public apology telling local residents it was “sincerely sorry” for not letting them know that three leopards have escaped and were on the loose.
The (big) cat got out of the bag, after a surveillance video showing a leopard in the high-end Jinyuan Villa residential area went viral online Friday. The park was forced to finally inform the public about the escaped leopards, NBC News reported.
Locals residents started alerting the authorities about the leopards' whereabouts on May 2, after spotting the animals in multiple locations around the Jinyuan Villa area, People reported.
On Saturday, another sighting took place in some of the residential areas and tea plantations near the park, according to a Fuyang District government statement.
Search teams found and captured two of the juvenile leopards, which were found with the help of drones and hunting dogs. Park officials said they were in good health, the statement said. However, the third leopard is still on the loose. On Sunday, a paw print was discovered and believed to have been been left and search teams are looking, People reported.
On Saturday evening, the Chinese zoo released an apology, saying it was "sincerely sorry" for not having alerted the public sooner, insisting that the leopards were only juveniles and saying it was worried that the announcement would cause panic, NBC reported.
“In view of the escape of underage leopards in our park, we hereby explain the situation to the public and sincerely apologize,” said Hangzhou Wildlife World officials in the apology statement.
The statement continues: “In the early stage, considering that the fled juvenile leopards were less aggressive and worried that the announcement of the incident would cause panic, the relevant information was not released in time. For the impact of the incident, our garden deeply reflects, apologizes, and sincerely accepts criticism and supervision from the public.”
The vice mayor of Hangzhou City said police found that the leopards escaped on April 19, several weeks before the first reported sighting. The park also admitted to police that it did not report the incident over worries that it could affect the flow of tourists into the zoo during China's May Day public holidays in the first week of May, NBC reported.
Five people in charge of the park, including its general manager, had been detained. Police are investigating the park to see how the zoo's animals are treated and how the leopards escaped. The safari has remained closed throughout the investigation, CNN reported.
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