Clouded leopard Nova reunited with sister; cut fence found in Dallas Zoo monkey enclosure

Clouded leopard Nova reunited with sister; cut fence found in Dallas Zoo monkey enclosure

Nova, the frowning leopard found at the Dallas Zoo after an hours-long search that prompted a criminal investigation, was reunited with her sister on Saturday, and police said a cut fence similar to the one she escaped from was discovered in a habitat for a small. monkey species.

The 4-year-old cat was reported missing Friday morning from an enclosure that authorities believe was opened on purpose. The zoo announced it had closed at 10:20 a.m. following a “code blue,” or an alert issued when non-dangerous animals are missing, but police records show officers were dispatched to the zoo around 7 a.m.: 20 in the morning.

With the help of drone equipment from the Dallas and Irving police departments, Nova was found not far from the habitat she shares with her sister, Luna, at 4:40 p.m. and was safely secured about 35 minutes later.

“As we anticipated, she found a good hiding spot, settled in, and as we got closer to dusk, she came out to explore,” Harrison Edell, the zoo’s executive vice president for animal care and conservation, said Saturday.

Related:Nova is the latest Dallas Zoo animal to walk out. Here’s a look at the escapees over the years

Clouded leopards – named for the large cloud-like spots that cover their bodies – are only a few meters long, weigh about 20 to 25 kilograms and pose no danger to humans. However, Edell said Nova was “very nervous” when she was found, so the zoo’s veterinary staff had to calm her down.

“We had a chance then to give her a physical, which is always a great idea when an animal has been in a new space,” he said. “Physically, she looks great.”

The tranquilizers were removed around 8pm on Friday and Nova returned to her repaired room on Saturday morning.

“She’s sleeping,” Edell said. “She had a long day. It’s quite an adventure.”

Nova was reunited with her sister on Saturday. (Shafkat Anowar / Staff Photographer)

Sgt. Warren Mitchell, a Dallas police spokesman, confirmed Friday afternoon that police have opened a criminal investigation into the leopard’s disappearance and said the department believes the tear found in the net was a “deliberate act.”

Police said late Saturday that investigators determined the hole in the Nova’s shutter was made with a “cutting tool.” Zoo personnel later located and guided investigators to a similar clearing in the zoo’s langur monkey habitat.

“However, all the langurs were still inside their habitat and did not appear to be harmed or in any danger,” police said. The police have not been able to confirm whether the two incidents are related and both investigations are ongoing.

When asked if officials believe the cut was made by an employee or a guest, Edell said it was “really hard to say at this point,” adding that the zoo is leaving the investigation to Dallas police, which they “will continue to support as best we can.”

According to Edell, the zoo has already made short-term changes to nighttime safety schedules, but said he knows “we have some homework to do to figure out what the long-term plans look like.”

“We’re going to try to learn everything we can from this case, adapt what we do and try to make sure we have the strongest protocols in place going forward,” Edell said.

Staff photographer Shafkat Anowar contributed to this report.

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