• Directory of Taiwan

China search team hunts for escaped leopard

The hunt was on for the last of three escaped leopards in China on Monday as videos of the felines were circulated amid online clamor.

Officials detained staff from the Hangzhou Safari Park, who are accused of trying to conceal the breakout for almost a week.

There have been frequent criticisms of Chinese zoos and wildlife parks over repeated revelations of inhumane conditions and deadly but avoidable incidents.

Spotted by a drone

A search team was reported to be on the trail of the third feline on Sunday, tracking paw prints that were discovered a day earlier.

The team has deployed hunting dogs and drones in the search.

One drone reportedly spotted the last leopard early on Sunday, but it fled when people attempted to approach it.

Hangzhou residents first reported seeing a leopard on the loose on May 1.

However, the safari park only acknowledged the escapes on Saturday after the news went viral.

Officials said that the two leopards that had been recaptured were in good health.

What was the criticism?

The safari park said it was "sincerely sorry" for not announcing the incident sooner.

The park said it delayed the announcement to avoid causing panic, and because the leopards were young and believed to be less aggressive.

Management is facing criticism for both allowing the animals to escape as well as not alerting the public to potential danger in a timely fashion.

Authorities are probing the cause of the animals' escape and have quizzed staff who were in charge.

The park has been closed temporarily while it reviews safety and management issues.

The escape garnered extra media attention, taking place over the five-day Labor Holidays in China, which see many tourists visit Hangzhou.

rc/rt (AFP, AP)

Updated : 2021-06-21 00:04 GMT+08:00