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Panther stolen from zoo after rooftop rescue

September 24, 2019

A black panther that was rescued last week after being spotted prowling the rooftops of a town in the north of France has been stolen from the zoo. The owner is still at large.

A panther climbing a rooftop in France
Image: picture-alliance/dpa/B. Chibane

Police and zoo employees in the French town of Maubeuge, near the Belgian border, say the animal's pen had signs of a break-in on Tuesday morning and that the panther was gone. The animal was brought to the zoo following its rescue last week

Staff noted that the security door of the enclosure had been opened with force. The authorities said they were reviewing video security footage for clues.  

The panther was to be moved to a center for rehabilitating wild animals in the coming days.

Maubeuge Mayor Arnaud Decagy said the panther was a target of thieves.

"You would have had to know that it was located in that particular enclosure," he said. "It was in health and administrative quarantine, so no visitor could have seen it."

Zoo employees are concerned for the young panther's health, "which is rather delicate because it lacks strength," said the mayor. The cat is only a few months old.

A Wild Story

Firefighters rescued the cat last Wednesday after it was spotted prowling rooftops in the town of Armentieres. It had escaped through an open window of a private apartment that is presumed to be its home. The panther was being kept illegally as a pet.  

Read more: The don'ts and don'ts of keeping exotic pets

Authorities believe the cat's owner, who is wanted by the police and has not returned to the apartment since the animal's capture, escaped through the same window to avoid being charged with illegally harboring a wild animal. Decagny said that, if caught, they could face charges of endangering the public, punishable with up to a year in prison and fines up to €15,000 euros ($16,500).

kp/rc (AFP, dpa, Reuters)