The Citizen (Gauteng)

Arrests over big cat escape

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– A leopard remained at large in eastern China yesterday after escaping from a safari park with two fellow big cats, sparking a frenzy among internet users who have shared pictures and video of the spotted felines roaming tea plantation­s in the area.

Residents of Hangzhou city first reported seeing a leopard on the loose on Friday, with the safari park only acknowledg­ing the escapes after the news went viral.

The park said it delayed making a public statement to avoid causing panic, but has been attacked online for allowing the animals to escape and endangerin­g residents by not alerting the public in a timely fashion.

Local officials said yesterday that five people associated with the attraction – including its general manager – had been detained and that police had launched an investigat­ion into the incident.

Chinese media reported that a search team was on the trail of the third leopard after paw prints believed to have been left by the cat were found on Sunday, deploying dogs and a powered parachute in the hunt for the feline.

The park has also faced criticism for a video depicting the recapture of one of the escaped cats, showing a pack of at least five dogs pinning it to the ground and biting its neck as the leopard clawed desperatel­y at them. –

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