8 wildest animal escapes of 2021

For as long as humans have confined animals, unwilling captives have found ways to break free. Sometimes these escapes end harmlessly, with animals quickly and quietly returned, and sometimes they cause havoc. Some animals gain long-lasting freedom but occasionally, these animal jailbreaks end in tragedy. From leopards on the lam in China to zebras roaming free in the “savanna” of Maryland, here are 8 of the wildest animal escapes of 2021.  

Leopards break out of Chinese zoo

Rescuers search for leopards that escaped from a wild park in Hangzhou, in China’s eastern Zhejiang province, on May 9, 2021. (Image credit: STR/AFP via Getty Images)

In April, three leopards (Panthera pardus) escaped while their enclosure was cleaned at the Hangzhou Safari Park in eastern China. Handlers shot the first leopard with a tranquillizer two days later, the second leopard was caught with a wounded hind leg after being on the run for more than a month and the third leopard showed no intention of ever coming back. Chinese officials sent out 1,700 personnel and almost 1,000 drones to track the third leopard down to no avail, even releasing around 100 chickens as live bait. 

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