Three leopards escaped from Hangzhou Safari Park
May 12, 2021
A couple of days ago it was announced by major news and media channels that three leopards - bàozi [豹子] - have escaped from the Hangzhou Safari Park on the 19th of April.
But the public outcry was not mainly raised based on the news itself - people, and especially residents of Hangzhou, were outraged by the behavior of Safari Park which had been trying to conceal this event from the public by simply keeping silence. The Park representatives only spoke on the 8th of May, after numerous images of leopards, hanging around a residential area in the neighborhood of Hangzhou, were leaked to the internet.
The first person who reported the sight of a leopard was a tea plantation owner who has noticed a huge spotted cat staring at him from the field, surrounded by tea leaves. He was also the first one to report it to the police.
According to the public opinion, such irresponsibility of Hangzhou Safari Park could lead to heavy injures and even death of local citizens who could have met one of these wild cats in the streets.
Park representatives on the contrary claim that their leopards were young, nearly “domestic” and very shy, would not damage people and are barely able to survive in the wild.
Currently the situation is under serious investigation, and the Park is temporarily closed for visitors.
Two leopards out of three missing were found and successfully returned to the Park; one is still missing. To find him special search teams with dogs have been hired, drones and other surveillance gadgets are being used and dozens of chicken are released in the search area as a potential bait.
However, one of the most common guesses explaining silent behavior of the Safari Park is that the event took place just before the national holidays, and the Park did not want to gain negative reputation or, even worse, to shut down, thus losing thousands of potential visitors in the peaking season.
Written by Yulia Chiaradia for IMCPI