Twitter users rejoiced after the Dallas Zoo announced that the missing clouded leopard was found unharmed near her original habitat.
On Friday, the zoo announced on Twitter that the premises would be closed “due to a serious situation,” stating that “a non-dangerous animal [was] out of its habitat.” Nova, a clouded leopard weighing 25 pounds, was not in her habitat at the scheduled check-in time, the zoo said.
Immediately, Twitter users flocked to share their reactions to the news.
A SWAT team was dispatched to the zoo under the impression that the release of the animal was an “intentional act,” Sgt. Warren Mitchell of the Dallas police said in a press conference on Friday. “When we initially responded to the location on a report of a missing clouded leopard, we first dispatched our SWAT officers out here ... not clearly understanding what a ‘clouded leopard’ was. We were thinking perhaps a big cat.”
Clouded leopards are “the smallest of the big cats” and originate in Southeast Asia. The International Union for Conservation of Nature has listed the animal as a vulnerable species, with a declining population. Nova was bred in Dallas and then born in the Houston Zoo alongside her sister, according to CBS News.
Police launched a criminal investigation on Friday amid suspicions that the fence enclosure was cut. The department deployed infrared drones to aid in the search. Online, people shared their personal theories about Nova’s jaunt outside the cage.
At 6:34pm on Friday, the zoo tweeted again that Nova had been found. But many have defended Nova’s escape, urging her to give her own statement.