INDIANAPOLIS (WCMH) — A cheetah got loose on Sunday, causing alarm and a lockdown at an area zoo.
The Indianapolis Zoo called for a “Code Red,” locking all zoo visitors inside while staff tranquilized the cheetah who escaped his enclosure.
An investigation is underway to figure out how the Cheetah was able to make it to a grassy area between the exhibit and public area.
NBC4 went to Columbus Zoo to see what safety procedures are in place to keep visitors and the animals safe.
Every day at 12:30 p.m., zoo staff show how fast the Cheetah can run. It is not only done to highlight the speed for visitors, but to show their agility on the move. What visitors rarely see are the drills zoo staff go through to keep the public safe.
“We are constantly practicing in case we have an animal escape,” said Susie Rapp, Vice President of Animal Programs, who also specializes in cheetahs.
Rapp said the Indianapolis Zoo trains–and did it right when their cheetah escaped.
”They were able to put that right into place and protect the public and safety of the public is our priority,” she said.
Astrid Kreidel said she spends all of her free time at the zoo photographing and studying the cheetahs. She agrees with Rapp that if they had to choose a cat to get loose they would choose the cheetah.
“It was probably running away from anyone that it came close to,” Kreidel said. “I wouldn’t be afraid. I would be more concerned if it were a lion or tiger.”
Ron Monroe of Akron was visiting the Columbus Zoo with his family. He said he know little about cheetahs, but found their speed amazing.
“They are fast; they might not be dangerous but they are fast,” Monroe said. “If they are hungry they are going to eat. But if not, you would be OK.”
Rapp took an educated guess why the Indianapolis cheetah escaped its enclosure.
“They are not know for climbing,” she said. “This is an animal that does not have retractable claws. It has a foot like a dog’s foot, but we have three girls that are very good climbers. This was a relatively new cheetah to them, obviously it is a stellar athlete.”
Indianapolis Zoo officials say their cheetahs will be kept out of the enclosure until they figure out how the cheetah called Pounce escaped.