Cheetah escapes enclosure at zoo, causing lockdown, officials say

A cheetah slipped outside its enclosure Tuesday at Omaha's Henry Doorly Zoo.
Published: Mar. 1, 2023 at 3:02 PM CST
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT/Gray News) - A zoo in Nebraska said it has recaptured a cheetah that had escaped from its primary enclosure Tuesday.

According to Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium, officials at the zoo learned the cheetah had escaped around 3:40 p.m.

The zoo said the cheetah was still behind a public barrier within the Scott African Grasslands and no one was ever in any danger during the incident.

When officials were notified of the cheetah’s escape, they activated emergency protocols. Guests, students and staff were taken to secure areas, and all entry points to the zoo were closed.

Zoo officials said the 5-year-old, 60-pound female cheetah, named Gretchen, was in the staff’s sight the whole time she was outside of her enclosure. At one point, Gretchen reportedly laid down and then responded to the animal care team.

Gretchen was then walked back to her night quarters without further incident, according to WOWT.

Omaha Zoo CEO Dr. Luis Padilla credited the quick response by zoo staff to their regular drills.

The zoo said it’s investigating how the cheetah was able to escape from its primary enclosure, and the specific area will be reviewed.

According to the zoo, Gretchen was born at the Lee G. Simmons Wildlife Safari Park. Gretchen currently lives at the zoo in the Scott African Grasslands with her mother and three sisters.