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The missing Dallas Zoo leopard has been found. Police are still investigating

Dallas Zoo
Nova, a clouded leopard, sits perched in the Dallas Zoo. Zoo officials said the animal went missing on Jan. 13, 2023.

Zookeepers noticed the roughly 25-pound leopard was missing from the zoo early Friday morning. Police have opened a criminal investigation into the animal’s brief disappearance.

Updated Jan. 13, 2023 at 5:44 p.m. CT

Nova, a 25-pound clouded leopard who went missing from the Dallas Zoo early Friday, has been found.

The zoo announced the animal was found near its enclosure around 4:40 p.m. CT, and she was secured shortly before 5:15.

Zoo officials closed the facility all day as staff members tried to locate the missing 25-pound cat.

Police opened a criminal investigation into Nova’s temporary disappearance after it appeared the animal’s mesh enclosure was intentionally cut.

The Dallas Police Department arrived at the zoo with a SWAT team to assist shortly after the animal was identified as missing early Friday.

By Friday afternoon, police said it appeared the fence to the leopard’s enclosure had been cut open.

"Investigators had come out and when they looked at the area where the leopard was — the clouded leopard — it was their belief and it is our belief that this was an intentional act,” said Sgt. Warren Mitchell, a spokesperson for the Dallas Police Department. “And so we have started a criminal investigation."

Born in London, Morning Producer and Podcast Host Katherine Hobbs has lived across the U.S. since 2001. Prior to joining KERA, she produced three podcasts for WJCT Public Media and Florida Public Media and wrote for Jacksonville Magazine, Autism Parenting Magazine and EU Jacksonville, among others. Katherine is thrilled to return to Texas after briefly living in Austin to share the stories that impact our North Texas community. When she’s not working, Katherine can be found admiring public libraries and visiting penguin colonies around the world.