Zoo 'Sorry' it Kept the Escape of 3 Leopards a Secret Until Locals Started Spotting the Big Cats
Two of the three juvenile leopards that escaped from the Hangzhou Safari Park in Fuyang, China, have been captured, after local residents reported multiple animal sightings
The Hangzhou Safari Park in Fuyang, China, kept locals in the dark about the escape of three leopards for weeks.
According to NBC News, the safari park didn't share that the big cats were missing until locals started spotting the animals outside of the zoo. Now, three weeks after the leopards left Hangzhou Safari Park, officials have captured two animals, but one remains on the loose.
Local authorities are on the missing leopard's trail after they found paw prints Sunday that they believe belong to the big cat, the outlet reported. The two other leopards the authorities caught with the help of drones and hunting dogs.
Locals started alerting the authorities about the loose leopards' whereabouts on May 2, after spotting the animals in multiple locations around the Jinyuan Villa area.
The park only alerted the public about the leopards' escape after a formal search began, a week after a resident reported the first sighting. Hangzhou City Vice Mayor Ke Jixin said that the leopards escaped on April 19, CNN reported.
The park admitted that they didn't report the escape initially because they didn't want it to halt the flow of tourism after China's May Day celebrations in early March.
"We were worried that the announcement of the incident would cause panic," Hangzhou Safari Park shared in a statement on Saturday, adding that the park is "sincerely sorry" and that the remaining missing leopard poses no harm to the public since it is a juvenile.
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According to CNN, 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. Five of the people responsible for running the park, including the general manager, have been detained.