Hangzhou Safari Park has caught fire in self-defense after three leopards fled for fear of affecting the number of visitors during the long May Day holiday weekend. The chicken escaped from a safari park three weeks ago after Chinese officials caught it and released it in a last-ditch attempt to catch a cheetah.
However, the cat jumped out of the bag when Hangzhou residents began to see leopards roaming the hills and local tea gardens. Footage posted online shows a leopard near the village of Jinyuan, not far from the safari park. Returning to recapture two leopards, according to a statement from the Fuyang District Government, the first recaptured the park on April 21, the park, and the second through a May-government search.
It is being treated for an injury to its right side, the state-owned Global Times reported. The final leopard is still large in size, involving officers, locals, drones, tracker dogs, powered parachutes, night-vision and heat detection equipment, and now has 100 chickens, AFP reported. Cats are captive-bred and so they are thought to have not developed effective hunting skills and may starve. Said a mass text message sent to local residents, “Leopard tracks have been identified near the hill villages. Police are conducting a search. Everyone, please close the doors and windows safely and do not go out.”
Attempts to cover up the park incident without officially informing the public or warning the public of the danger have caused a stir. According to state-backed The Paper, the park initially denied reports of an escape. It then issued a statement (translated) apologizing for not warning people as soon as possible, stating that the announcement of the incident had caused panic, at first it seemed that the three cats were juveniles so they were less aggressive and this was public criticism. The park is currently closed for investigation and the park’s general manager, Zhang Dequan Plus, has four others in custody, AFP reported.
It was not immediately clear how the animals escaped, although it was speculated that the guards failed to follow safety instructions when they entered after clearing their enclosure. Local police said Deccan ordered a cover-up while scrambling the park to rescue the cats. For the first time in China, the park and zoo for apparent disaster protection and endangered people have caught fire.
A visitor to the Younger Zoo in the eastern Chinese city of Ningbo died in 2017 in front of visitors to the park after he climbed a tiger enclosure hoping for a fence. Recently, a zoo worker was killed by a bear at Shanghai Wild Animal Park last year – again in full view of park visitors.
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