Texas zoo reopens after wild mountain lion reportedly wanders in, isn't found

EL PASO, Texas — UPDATE 10:10 a.m. Oct. 14: El Paso Zoo Director Steve Marshall said the zoo reopened Saturday morning after a five hour search resulted in no mountain lion being located.

"This animal has moved on. It's too noisy and too busy (in this area) to hang around," Marshall told the El Paso Times. "We've never had a large cat (mountain lion) get in the zoo."

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Marshall said it would have been easy for a lion to jump over the zoo's 8-foot perimeter fence.

Before the zoo opened Friday, Marshall said a night security guard head the mountain lion growling in an outdoor area of an elephant exhibit.

“He shined his flashlight (at the lion), and it ran away from him. He went to the zoo office and called me,” Marshall said.

Original report: El Paso Zoo in El Paso, Texas, closed until further notice after a wild mountain lion wandered into the facility.

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KFOX reported that, around 6 a.m. Friday, the mountain lion made its way into the zoo. Officials have confirmed it is not a zoo animal and they have been unable to find it so far.

An El Paso Zoo spokesperson told KFOX the zoo is on lock down and public safety is a top concern.

Important Announcement The El Paso Zoo is closed today till further notice. - Anuncio importante El zoológico de El Paso está cerrado hoy hasta nuevo aviso.

Posted by El Paso Zoo on Friday, October 12, 2018

Captain Ray Spears with Texas Parks and Wildlife told KVIA that Texas Game Wardens were assisting in finding the mountain lion. Spears said staff is prepared to tranquilize animals.

If the mountain lion is found and tranquilized, Spears said, it would be taken to a state park. If the animal is a risk to public safety or aggressive, sick or injured, it could be put down.

This is a developing story. Check back for updates.