Residents of a Chinese town have been warned to stay indoors as authorities release flocks of chickens as bait to track down a leopard that escaped from a safari park, state media reported on Tuesday. .
The verdant lakeside city of Hangzhou has been on the cutting edge of technology since late last week, when locals began to spot leopards roaming around the local hills covered in forests and tea plantations.
The leopard is one of three that escaped on April 19 – the other two have since been recaptured – a mistake that police say was covered up by Hangzhou Safari Park management for nearly three weeks to avoid adversely affect its number of visitors during long vacations. week.
The incident sparked a torrent of Chinese internet publications that lambasted the park for endangering the public and lamented the abysmal safety and animal welfare record of the country’s chaotic zoos and animal parks.
Public outrage was also stoked by images of one of the big cats mutilated in a forest by a pack of ferocious hunting dogs, and another showing one of the recaptured leopards with part of its hind leg missing. .
The first leopard was quietly recaptured by the park on April 21, and on the second last Friday by a much larger government search organized as news of the breakouts went viral.
But the remaining feline has so far escaped the thousands of search personnel using tracking dogs, motorized parachutes and armed with drones and night vision and heat-sensing equipment.
Nearly 100 chickens were released to attract the cat, the Modern Express Post in nearby Nanjing city reported on Tuesday.
Like the other two escapees, he was born in captivity, lacked hunting intelligence, and is said to be near starvation.
The authorities have also put in place additional security measures near the search area and residents have been alerted.
“Leopard tracks have been discovered near mountain villages. Police are searching. Everyone, please close doors and windows safely and do not go outside,” said one. text message broadcast en masse in a neighborhood adjacent to the park.
The park is about a dozen kilometers from downtown Hangzhou.
Police said on Monday that reckless park staff allowed the animals to escape while cleaning their enclosure and that attraction general manager Zhang Dequan ordered a cover-up while the park struggled to recover. the animals themselves.
The park was only cleaned up after police launched an investigation into the leopard sightings.
Local officials said five people, including Zhang, were arrested. The park is temporarily closed.
Chinese zoos and animal parks are frequently criticized for recurring revelations of horrific conditions or fatal incidents blamed on lax management.
Chinese state media reported in 2017 that a tiger killed a visitor at a wildlife park in the eastern city of Ningbo after the man apparently entered his enclosure. Tigers in a Beijing park also killed a woman and injured another the previous year after the two left their vehicle.
dma / jfx