Thursday, 7 July 2016

Dangerous big cat on the loose after ESCAPING zoo as police put schools on alert

POLICE are hunting a dangerous lynx wild cat on the loose after it managed to escape from its new zoo enclosure one day after it arrived.

PUBLISHED: 12:08, Thu, Jul 7, 2016 | UPDATED: 15:12, Thu, Jul 7, 2016

Devon and Cornwall Police have urged people not to approach the lynx "as it could become dangerous if alarmed or cornered".

The wild cat only arrived at Dartmoor Zoo on Wednesday, but zookeepers discovered it had dug itself out of its enclosure when they went to check on it at about 10.20am this morning. 

Schools have been placed on high alert following the incident. 

Officers confirmed helicopters are scouring the Plymouth area for the large wild cat, which is described as a grey/silver two-year-old male, bigger than the size of a large domestic cat, but smaller than a lion or tiger.

The lynx is a two-year-old male, approximately the size of a large domestic cat and is described as grey/silver in colour

Staff made the shock discovery when they went to check on how the animal was settling into its new home. 

Thirty members of frantic staff and volunteers searched the 33-acre park, but the animal is now thought to have left the grounds.

The zoo was closed as a precaution, as police launched a major hunt for the wild animal. 

Police have urged members of the public not to approach the animal "as it could become dangerous if alarmed or cornered".

The National Police Air Service (NPAS) helicopter has been deployed to assist with the search of the boundaries of the zoological park.

Officers have visited two local schools to offer safety advice and reassurance.

They are also working with staff at Little Orchard Montessori School to make sure they are kept inside, while making house to house visits in the area to offer advice and are assisting with the search on the ground.

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