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Frantic search ensues after leopard that mauled 3 in India escapes

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NEW DELHI — The leopard that went on a rampage at an Indian school last week and mauled three people escaped from its enclosure on Monday.

The nearly 100-pound, male leopard jumped over the fences at the Bangalore’s Bannerghatta Zoo, according to a witness account. There were no surveillance cameras at the zoo to capture the moment when the leopard fled.

The leopard gained notoriety after he roamed into a private school in suburban Bangalore for nearly 14 hours last Sunday. Security video footage showed the leopard prowling the empty hallways of Vibgyor International School, chasing people throughout the school grounds, and biting and clawing terrified victims. Three people were mauled and the injured were taken to the hospital for treatment.

After it was caught, the leopard was moved to the zoo for treatment, said Ravi Ralph, the state wildlife chief.

The animal could be in a national park that surrounds the zoo, Ralph said. A major search is underway to locate the big cat.

Ralph sought to allay concerns of a repeat appearance by the leopard. The chances of the leopard straying into residential areas are small because the zoo is surrounded by a national park that doesn’t contain any human habitat, he said. But authorities are not taking any chances and have alerted residential neighborhoods.

The 6-year-old leopard had been suspected of straying onto the school grounds from a nearby forest.

About 1,500 leopards are estimated to live in the state of Karnataka, but they rarely strayed far into urban areas. But conflicts between animals and people are becoming more common as animals lose their habitats. Residents in the nearby area have been notified to call the authorities if they spot the leopard.

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