Officials at a safari park in the eastern Chinese city of Hangzhou have apologized after three leopards escaped late last month and no one notified the public.
According to a statement by Hangzhou’s vice mayor, translated to English by NBC News, the leopards escaped on April 19. The zoo kept news of their disappearance quiet, however, citing concerns it might diminish visitors to the park during a busy holiday week.
The zoo denied any sort of security breach even after residents in the area reported spotting leopards to police on May 1, the state-owned news source Global Times reports.
It wasn’t until May 8 that Hangzhou Safari Park acknowledged it was the source of the mystery leopards. In a statement, the zoo said it was “sincerely sorry” and tried to downplay the animals’ threat to the public, noting they were juvenile leopards and therefore “less aggressive.”
The Shanghai Daily, also a state-owned news source, reports that police have detained five zoo employees and that two of the three animals have since been recaptured.
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