The Dallas Zoo shut last week, posting a foreboding message which simply read “The Zoo is closed today due to a serious situation.” Naturally, speculation started to fly. Jurassic World even replied. If there’s ever an organization that knows how bad things have to get to shut down, it’s them. Luckily, the situation was a much smaller matter than a T-rex. The Zoo’s clouded leopard Nova had escaped her enclosure, prompting a “Code Blue.”
Fortunately for all animals and humans concerned, Nova was found after several hours not far from her pen. After a thorough check-up for injuries, vets gave Nova a clean bill of health. The investigation by authorities uncovered that Nova’s fence was purposely cut. Perhaps with the intention of stealing her or freeing her for some reason. Luckily, she didn’t get far. Nova has an especially close-knit bond with her pen-mate, Luna.
Apparently, Nova probably hid in a tree upon escaping. Zoo officials surmised she ventured out of her enclosure to hunt. Comically, police sent a SWAT team to search for the big cat, ignorant of her size. Clouded leopards are the smallest of the big cats, weighing at only 20 to 25 pounds and are two to three feet long. A bit like sending an army to battle a tortoise.
“We are thrilled to report we located clouded leopard Nova on-grounds at the Zoo this afternoon at approximated 4:40 p.m.,” the Zoo tweeted. “She was located very near the original habitat, and teams were able to safely secure her just before 5:15 p.m.”
Gotta Keep Track of the Little Big Cats
The four-year-old leopards arrived at the Dallas Zoo in 2021, the Houston Zoo their previous home. Both have had some training so that handlers can more easily transport and care for them. Zoo spokesperson Jessica Reyes said their transition to the Dallas Zoo is “based on Association of Zoos & Aquariums recommendations to ensure genetically diverse populations of animals at zoos and aquariums.”
We’re happy to know Nova is safe and healthy. There’s a very small number of clouded leopards left in the world. Sadly, there are less than 10,000 adults in the wild. So each one is precious and their survival is important.