Clouded leopard that escaped enclosure at Dallas Zoo found safe, officials say

Dallas police said they believe someone cut the fence of the leopard’s enclosure on purpose


A clouded leopard that escaped its enclosure at the Dallas Zoo has been found safe, according to zoo staff.

Nova was found on the zoo grounds, very near her enclosure, at 4:40 p.m., Friday. She was secured by staff just before 5:15 p.m.

Zoo employees said she doesn’t appear to be injured but she is being evaluated by veterinary staff.

During the day-long search for the leopard on zoo grounds, Dallas police said they believe the fence on the leopard’s enclosure was intentionally cut, allowing for its escape.

A criminal investigation has been started but further details are limited at this time.

The zoo is expected to reopen on Saturday.


Dallas Zoo employees and Dallas police are still searching for a clouded leopard that disappeared from its habitat.

After further investigation, police said during a news conference late Friday they believe someone intentionally cut part of the fence of the leopard’s enclosure, allowing for its escape. A criminal investigation is ongoing but further details are limited.

The zoo closed Friday as employees and police looked for Nova, who was not in her enclosure when crew members arrived in the morning.

According to zoo officials, the Wilds of Africa will reopen Saturday, but Zoo North will remain closed as the search for the leopard continues.

The 25-pound cat escaped through a tear in the mesh, zoo officials said. The zoo does have a fence surrounding the property as a precaution, and it’s not believed that Nova is traveling.

“It is bigger than a house cat and smaller than most bobcats,” zoo officials said.

Nova is believed to be up high in the trees and is likely still on zoo grounds, according to zoo officials.

“To set some minds at ease, if she has made her way off-grounds, this animal isn’t a greater risk for pets than animals native to North Texas that roam our neighborhoods, but if you feel more comfortable bringing pets inside, please do,” zoo officials said.

WFAA reported that Nova is one of two clouded leopards at the zoo. The other is Nova’s sister, Luna.

Anyone who believes they’ve found the leopard is urged not to approach it. Instead, take a photo and send it through a direct message on Twitter to the Dallas Zoo.

Anyone who may have more information on how Nova escaped is urged to call 911.

This story will be updated as more information becomes available.

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Rebecca Salinas joined KSAT in the fall of 2019. Her skills include content management, engagement and reporting.

Cody King is a digital journalist for KSAT 12. She previously worked for WICS/WRSP 20 in Springfield, Illinois.