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Missing Zoo Leopard Found. Now, Mystery of 2 Cut Fences

Officials at Dallas Zoo say cut was found in fence to leopard enclosure, as well as at monkey habitat
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 16, 2023 9:35 AM CST
Missing Zoo Leopard Found. Now, Mystery of 2 Cut Fences
This undated image shows Nova, a clouded leopard who went temporarily missing from her enclosure at the Dallas Zoo in Dallas.   (Dallas Zoo via AP)

First, the good news: Nova, the clouded leopard who vanished from her enclosure at the Dallas Zoo, has been found. The 4-year-old big cat was found to be missing on Friday morning from the habitat she shares with her sister, Luna, leading the zoo to temporarily shut down "due to a serious situation." Zoo officials said they issued a "Code Blue"—i.e., an alert about a nondangerous animal that had found its way out of its enclosure—and around 5pm local time that same day, with help from police department drones, Nova was found and recaptured, not far from her usual home, reports the Dallas Morning News.

"As we had predicted, she found a good hiding spot, settled in, and as we got closer to dusk, came out to explore," zoo official Harrison Edell tells the paper, which notes that clouded leopards don't usually exceed 25 pounds and are generally considered harmless. Now, the not-so-good news: Cops investigating the scene says it looks like someone intentionally slashed the fencing around Nova and Luna's enclosure, with a "cutting tool," allowing Nova to escape. To add to that, officials there also found that the fencing around a langur monkey habitat was similarly cut open. None of the monkeys were injured or escaped.

Zoo officials aren't speculating whether a zoo worker or guest may have cut the fencing, per Edell; a criminal mischief report was filed and a police investigation is now underway, per NBC Dallas-Fort Worth. Back in the good-news column, Nova seems to be doing OK after her breakout adventure. The zoo posted on Saturday that she spent the day hanging out with Luna, and that "vet & animal care teams say she shows no signs of injury and has settled right back into her routine." (More zoo stories.)

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