Clouded leopard on the run after escaping from Dallas Zoo enclosure

Nova and her twin sister Luna were born at the Houston Zoo in 2019 and spent their first year there before being moved to Dallas. Now Nova is gone.

HOUSTON. The Dallas Zoo was closed Friday morning after the clouded leopard was declared extinct, and staff are still trying to find it. The zoo said it was closed “due to a serious situation”.

Zoo officials said they issued a “code blue” for a “non-dangerous animal out of its habitat.”

“One of our clouded leopards was not in its habitat when the team arrived this morning and is currently missing,” the zoo said in a Facebook statement. “Given the nature of these animals, we believe the animal is still on the property and hiding.”

However, they ask residents to be vigilant.

“He is larger than a domestic cat and smaller than most lynxes. If you think you see this animal, please do not approach it.” wrote the zoo. “We ask you to take a photo and write to us.”

The Dallas police joined the search and even brought in a drone to try and spot Nova from the air.

The clouded leopard, born at the Houston Zoo in 2019, turned 3 years old in November. She and her twin sister Luna spent their first year in Houston before moving north.

Harrison Edell, the zoo’s executive vice president of animal care, said that when zoologists discovered Nova was missing, they noticed a gap in the mesh fence. The moon was still inside.

Nova weighs about 20-25 pounds and doesn’t pose a danger to humans, Edell said.

Nova, when afraid, will most likely climb a tree, “hunt squirrels and birds and hope not to be seen,” Edell said. “Thinking like a cat, she probably went straight for the trees and didn’t come down.”

Houston natives

Nova and Luna, rare clouded leopard twins, were born at the Houston Zoo in November 2019.

“Nova and Luna have gone from wobbly balls of down last November to graceful members of their species today,” the zoo wrote on its blog on its first birthday. “It was an adventure to watch them grow.”

The twins received round-the-clock care for the first few months before making their public debut in 2020.

“Although they have a lot in common, Nova and Luna have their own distinctive features. The moon is more sociable and spends more time with the caretakers,” the zoo said. “Nova is a little more careful, keeping an eye on her surroundings.”

Their parents, Saksn and Tarak, came to the zoo six years ago and it was love at first sight. They were raised by the zoo staff and quickly became inseparable.

About clouded leopards

This information was provided by the Houston Zoo.

The clouded leopard is uncommon among cat species in the world. They are the smallest of the big cats, have the largest fangs in relation to body size of any other cat species, and their coats are striking but blend in so well with their environment that they are extremely difficult to see.

Named for its spotted coat, the clouded leopard and its habitat remain a mystery. They live in the area from the foothills of the Himalayas to the islands of Sumatra and Borneo in Southeast Asia. They are under pressure from habitat loss, poaching for their attractive coat, and even the pet trade in several Asian countries.

Clouded leopards excel at climbing; There are few cats in the world that can run up a tree by spinning their ankles to escape the tree head first, or hanging upside down from a tree branch.

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