A leopard has been safely caught having been missing from her zoo enclosure for several hours.
The animal, named Nova, was located on the grounds of Dallas Zoo, close to her original habitat, at around 4.40pm local time on Friday (January 13) and returned to a safe environment approximately half-an hour later.
She had been missing for more than six hours and, until she could be rescued, Nova's escape meant the zoo was placed on lockdown with police drafted in to help oversee the search.
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Keepers had earlier discovered that the four-year-old wildcat was not in her enclosure and that there was a hole in the mesh surrounding her compound.
But Nova is considered a non-dangerous animal by zoo officials who, therefore, signalled a code blue warning to members of the public.
Breaking the news of Nova's disappearance, Dallas Zoo tweeted: "We have an ongoing situation at the Zoo right now with a Code Blue – that is a non-dangerous 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 unaccounted for at this time.
"Dallas PD is onsite assisting with the search efforts. The Zoo is closed today as our teams work to find and recover the animal.
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"Given the nature of these animals, we believe the animal is still on grounds and hiding. We will share updates and more information as soon as we can. Our focus right now is on locating the animal."
Following the successful completion of that objective, Dallas Zoo tweeted: "We are thrilled to report we located clouded leopard Nova on grounds at the zoo this afternoon at approximately 4.40 pm.
"She was located very near the original habitat, and teams were able to safely secure her just before 5:15 p.m.
"Initial indications are she is not injured. She is being evaluated by our veterinary staff right now. We’ll provide further updates on her status tomorrow."
Police conducted the search on foot with the help of overhead drones.
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