The Dallas Zoo closed Friday after a clouded leopard was found missing, setting off a daylong search and criminal investigation after police say they discovered evidence that the fence of the small cat’s habitat had been intentionally cut.
According to the recent updates from Dallas Zoo, Nova was discovered very close to the original habitat, and teams were able to safely secure her just before 5.15 pm.
The zoo officials had described the clouded leopard as not dangerous. It seems to be hiding somewhere on the zoo grounds, the officials said earlier.
Who is Nova?
The missing clouded leopard’s name is Nova. The small cat is female and weighs around 20-25 pounds (9-11 kilograms), according to Harrison Edell, executive vice president of animal care and conservation at Dallas Zero.
The search operation for the leopard in the largest zoo in Texas was focused on scouring trees. This is because the clouded leopards like to climb, said Edell.
Fortunately, Nova’s twin sister Luna was safe and sound in the enclosure. The two sisters are each 3 to 4 years old and each weighs around 20-25 pounds, which is normal for an adult female clouded leopard, according to the Smithsonian’s National Zoo and Conservation Biology Institute.
Clouded leopards have a life span of around 12 to 15 years but can live up to 17 years in human care. Nova and Luna were born at the Houston Zoo in 2019. The twins received 24-hour care for their first few months before making their first public appearance in 2020.
“Nova and Luna have transformed from wobbly little balls of fluff last November, to graceful ambassadors for their species today,” the Houston Zoo posted on its blog on their first birthday. “It has been an adventure watching them grow,” it added.
They spent their first year in Houston before arriving in Dallas in 2021. Their parents, Suksn and Tarak, arrived at the Houston Zoo six years earlier. They were hand-reared by zoo staffers and quickly become inseparable.