DALLAS – A Dallas-area zoo is closed for the day after authorities say they are searching for a clouded leopard that apparently escaped its habitat overnight, NBC affiliate KXAS reported.
The zoo said on its Facebook page that the missing leopard is named “Nova.” According to the Houston Zoo, Nova is originally from the Houston area and grew up at the Houston Zoo before being moved to the Dallas area in 2021.
Nova and Luna, have moved up north! We've watched them grow over the past year and are excited for their new adventure. They have moved based on a @zoos_aquariums Species Survival Plan® (SSP) recommendation.💚 Join us in wishing them well!— Houston Zoo (@houstonzoo) August 4, 2021
📸: Volunteer Matthew Griffiths pic.twitter.com/QgRfx4j5cH
The small cat weighs about 20-25 pounds, said Harrison Edell, executive vice president of animal care and conservation at the Dallas Zoo. The search inside the zoo was focused on scouring trees, which Edell said clouded leopards like to climb.
The zoo said the situation is a “code blue” -- meaning a non-dangerous animal was out of its habitat. They believe the animal is currently hiding and still inside the zoo, KXAS reported.
“If anything, she’s really nervous and afraid of people,” Edell said.
He did not say how the animal escaped its enclosure. Another clouded leopard at the zoo, Nova’s sister, was still in its habitat, Edell said.
Clouded leopards are roughly the size of a medium-sized dog and weigh close to 30 pounds, the Dallas Morning News reported. They are normally tree climbers and hunt for small animals such as squirrels and more.
Animals have escaped enclosures from the Dallas Zoo before. Most notably was in 2004, when a 340-pound gorilla named Jabari jumped over a wall and went on a 40-minute rampage that injured three people before police shot and killed the animal.
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The Associated Press contributed to this report.