Fencing at a Dallas Zoo Monkey Habitat Cut the Same Day as Leopard's Escape, Police Say

Dallas Zoo
Dallas Zoo

Tony Gutierrez/AP/Shutterstock

Police looking into the escape of a clouded leopard from its habitat at the Dallas Zoo on Jan. 14 are saying that the animal's enclosure was intentionally tampered with — and that they found similar vandalism elsewhere in the zoo.

Dallas police reported that a cutting tool was used to make an opening in the fencing surrounding the leopard's habitat. Following an investigation, the same type of cut was found in the area housing the Texas zoo's langurs, a small breed of monkey.

Police say they don't know yet if the two incidents are related. None of the monkeys managed to escape, and all were apparently unharmed.

The disappearance of the leopard — a female named Nova — forced the zoo to close on Friday. Police officers were enlisted to help find the 25-pound animal. The zoo announced the search for the clouded leopard via its official Twitter page, first telling potential visitors it was a "serious situation."

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Dusky langur perched in a tree in Kaeng Krachan National Park.
Dusky langur perched in a tree in Kaeng Krachan National Park.


Luckily, Nova was found on the day of her disappearance, around 4:40 p.m. Friday.

"She was located very near the original habitat, and teams were able to safely secure her just before 5:15 p.m," the zoo tweeted, adding that the cat did not appear to be injured.

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On Saturday, the zoo reported that Nova was doing fine after her short adventure and had settled right back into her daily routine.

"Clouded leopard Nova spent Saturday in the habitat with her sister Luna, perched up on a high branch while oh-so-many guests stopped by to wish her well," the tweet read. "The vet & animal care teams say she shows no signs of injury."

Luna and Nova began calling the Dallas Zoo home in September 2021, according to The Dallas Morning News. They were previously housed at the Houston Zoo.

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Dallas Police said the cutting of the two enclosures remains under investigation.