A few days ago, three leopards from a safari park near the city of Hangzhou, China, escaped. Two have since been found, but as of Monday the third was still actively sought. The animal park is crumbling under criticism for having delayed giving the alert.
For a zoo, letting a leopard escape is worrying. Losing three and not telling the locals for days is another thing. Yet this was the choice of those responsible for a safari park found near the city of Hangzhou, in eastern China. They finally admitted late last week that three of their animals had fled to nearby hills. At the moment, we do not know how.
“It was much bigger than a cat”
The establishment has since faced a wave of outrage. The government has placed one of the zoo’s senior officials under criminal investigation, and officials have promised an investigation.
Why did you delay in warning the inhabitants? The park’s explanation is that they didn’t want to scare them. “Considering the fact that the escaped young leopards were not very aggressive and fearing that the disclosure of the case would trigger panic, we did not quickly divulge the news,” read a statement released on Saturday. after the local government confirmed the escape and warned residents.
According to Chinese reports, several residents said they spotted the cats for at least a week before local authorities sounded the alert. Zhu Caifeng, a tea farmer, spotted one in a field in early May. “At first I thought it was some kind of cat, but when I looked closely the dimensions weren’t right,” he told the Shanghai Observer. “It was much bigger than a cat.”
Mr. Zhu kept his cool and continued to work in his fields after the feline left. The man made another observation the next day. Concerned that the animal would attack someone, he finally shared a photo of the animal on WeChat, China’s social media service. Very quickly, the affair gained momentum.
One last leopard on the run
In the meantime, search teams scanned the region’s hills from the air equipped with darts to lull the animals to sleep, accompanied by a canine device on the ground. To date, two out of three leopards have been found, and so far no attacks have been reported. Just in case, several Chinese news sites have offered some advice on what to do if you encounter the last wandering leopard.
Concretely, the advice is as follows: do not look them straight in the eye and do not panic. If you are attacked anyway, your only chance of survival will be to stick your fist into the animal’s throat.
Chinese animal parks are regularly criticized for the living conditions of animals, but also for incidents attributed to rules deemed too lax. Last month, the local press reported that a Siberian tiger encountered a peasant in a village on the Russian border before attacking him.