Nov 20, 2021 06:22 PM

Six Sentenced to Jail Over Zoo Leopard Escape Cover-Up

What’s new: Six people have been sentenced to jail over an April incident in which three leopards escaped from a safari park in a city near Shanghai.

A local court in eastern China’s Hangzhou found the zoo’s general manager, Zhang Dequan, had colluded with two other managers to cover up the incident, dispatching staff to find the big cats themselves in order to avoid repercussions.

The three managers and three other staff were convicted of violating safety rules, and were sentenced to between 14 months and two years’ prison on Friday, with probation terms not specified.

The context: In April, three captive-bred leopards escaped from Hangzhou Safari Park while two zookeepers were cleaning their enclosure.

Zoo management concealed the incident and failed to report the case, choosing instead to search for the leopards — one male and two female — to avoid a potential hit to the business, investigators found.

A member of the public eventually alerted authorities when they were able to take a picture of one of the big cats prowling nearby.

Thousands of police, firefighters, officials and volunteers mobilized for a search which found two of the leopards. One remains at large.

Related: Update: Police Launch Probe Into How Leopards Got Loose From East China Safari Park

Quick Takes are condensed versions of China-related stories for fast news you can use.

Contact reporter Guo Yingzhe ( and editor Flynn Murphy (

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