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Chinese safari park 'sincerely sorry' for not telling public escaped leopards on the loose

·1-min read

A safari park in eastern China is facing criticism for concealing the escape of three of its leopards over a week ago.

Two of the animals from the Hangzhou Safari Park have been captured but the third is still missing, according to the Global Times newspaper.

The safari park reported the missing leopards and alerted the public on Saturday, but villagers reported seeing the animals as early as 1 May.

It is unclear how the leopards managed to escape.

Efforts to capture the last leopard were ongoing as of Sunday night, according to a statement posted today by the Hangzhou local government on its official WeChat account.

Those searching for the animal were using equipment such as drones, as well as hunting dogs.

The leopard was spotted by a drone early Sunday, but fled when people attempted to approach it, according to the Global Times.

The delay in announcing the escape sparked criticism that the park had put people at risk, especially since the leopards were at large over China's five-day Labour Day holidays, when hordes of tourists visited the city of Hangzhou - one of the country's most popular destinations thanks to its tea plantations and scenic West Lake.

Authorities are investigating the cause of the leopards' escape and have questioned the personnel in charge at the safari park.

The safari park said it was "sincerely sorry" for not announcing the incident sooner, according to a statement on its Weibo microblogging account Saturday.

As the young leopards were believed to be less aggressive, the park said it did not make the announcement to prevent causing panic among the public.

The safari park has been temporarily closed while it reviews safety and management issues.

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