Police believe Nova escaped her habitat through a fence opening that was intentionally cut. A similar cut was found at another habitat.
DALLAS — Police have opened another criminal investigation at the Dallas Zoo after finding a second cut fence at a different animal habitat.
Investigators filed a case on Friday after a clouded leopard named Nova escaped her habitat. She was found safe about seven hours after being reported missing and was returned to her enclosure.
During a press conference, a Dallas police spokesperson said they believed the mesh fence surrounding the clouded leopard habitat was intentionally cut.
In a news release Saturday, police said investigators found a similar cut at a habitat for Langur monkeys. All of the monkeys were still in their enclosure and police said they did not appear to be hurt or in danger.
It’s not clear if the two fence cuttings are related, so police have opened a separate investigation. The department is still looking into the case related to Nova’s escape.
What happened at the Dallas Zoo on Friday?
The saga began at around 10:15 a.m. on Friday, when the Dallas Zoo posted that it was closed “due to a serious situation.” Zoo officials later added that they had issued a “code blue” for a “non-dangerous animal that is out of its habitat.”
“One of our clouded leopards was not in its habitat when the team arrived this morning and is unaccounted for at this time,” the zoo said in a statement on Facebook. “Given the nature of these animals, we believe the animal is still on grounds and hiding.”
Dallas police quickly began assisting the zoo in its search for the Nova, who is 3 to 4 years old, officials said.
Multiple police units were on the scene, including officers with a drone.
The Zoo said Nova was spotted near her original habitat around 4:40 p.m. Team members were able to safely secure her just before 5:15 p.m. — more than seven hours after they first reported her missing.
A Dallas Police Department spokesperson said during a 4 p.m. press conference that they believed the mesh fence surrounding the clouded leopard’s enclosure was intentionally cut.
“Investigators looked at the area, and it is our belief this was an intentional act — and so we have started a criminal investigation,” DPD Public Information Officer Sgt. Warren Mitchell said at the press conference.