The Citizen (Gauteng)

Fleeing feline sparks fear

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Shanghai – Residents in a Chinese city were warned to stay indoors as authoritie­s released flocks of chickens as bait to track down a leopard that escaped from a safari park, state media reported yesterday.

The leafy lakeside city of Hangzhou has been on edge since late last week, when residents began spotting leopards roaming around local hills covered in forest and tea plantation­s.

The leopard is one of three that escaped on 19 April – the other two have since been recaptured – a lapse that police said was concealed by the Hangzhou Safari Park’s management for nearly three weeks to avoid hurting its visitor numbers during a long holiday last week.

The incident has unleashed a torrent of Chinese internet posts savaging the park for endangerin­g the public, and lamenting the abysmal safety and animal-welfare record of the country’s chaotic zoos and wildlife parks.

Public outrage has also been fanned by footage of one of the big cats being mauled in a forest by a pack of fierce hunting dogs, and another showing one of the recaptured leopards with part of its hind foot missing.

The first leopard was quietly recaptured by the park on 21 April, and the second last Friday by a far larger government search team.

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