The Dallas Zoo closed Friday unexpectedly as zoo officials reported that one of its clouded leopards went missing.
“One of our clouded leopards was not in its habitat when the team arrived this morning and is unaccounted for at this time,” the zoo said in a statement Friday morning. “The Zoo is closed today as our teams work to find and recover the animal.”
The zoo tweeted that the Dallas Police Department is offering support in finding the missing animal.
“Dallas PD is onsite assisting with the search efforts,” the tweet read, adding that their “focus right now is on locating the animal.”
According to media reports, the clouded leopard is a small cat that poses no danger to the public. As such, the zoo issued a code blue, which indicates that a non-dangerous animal is out of its habitat.
The wild cat is named Nova and she is believed to have escaped from her enclosure through a tear in the mesh.
She shares the habitat in the area known as Primate Place with her sister Luna.
Both leopards were brought to DFW to live in the Dallas Zoo in 2021 after being raised in the Houston Zoo, according to The Dallas Morning News.
The clouded leopard differs from other leopards in that it is much smaller, weighing approximately 30 pounds, and does not pose a danger to humans, Harrison Edell, vice president for animal care at the Dallas Zoo, told NBC 5 Dallas.
Nova is still believed to be inside the zoo and could possibly be hiding in the treetops.
With it being wintertime and there not being many leaves in the trees, Edell told NBC 5 Dallas that finding Nova should be a lot easier.
Juan Fernandez, a spokesman for the DPD, detailed how officers are responding to the situation in an email to The Dallas Express.
“Patrol units along with the Unmanned Aircraft System Unit (UAS/Drone) are on scene and assisting with locating the animal,” the email read.
Reports say that the drones have been equipped with infrared technology.
The Dallas Express has previously spoken with Dallas police about their drone policy and the department’s increased usage of this equipment.
Since Nova’s habitat is in the northwest part of the zoo, located north of Clarendon Drive, anyone who has spotted a cat larger than the average house cat in that area is encouraged to call the police.
In the meantime, the Dallas Zoo remains closed and the search for Nova is ongoing.
The Dallas Express contacted the Dallas Zoo for comment and additional information, but none has been received at the time of publication.