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Lockdown ends after cheetah escapes at Indianapolis Zoo

Posted at 10:26 AM, Sep 06, 2015
and last updated 2015-09-06 14:05:30-04

The Indianapolis Zoo issued a Code Red Sunday morning after a cheetah escaped from its enclosure.

RTV6 sales rep Angela Knight was at the zoo with her family around 9:30 a.m. Sunday when she says the Code Red was issued and zoo staff told everyone to shelter inside due to a cheetah being on the loose.

"We were right by the penguins, close to the plains, and employees just kind of rushed us and said, 'You need to go to the bathrooms. There's been a Code Red,'" Knight said. "They told us there was a cheetah. My husband and son and little girl had to separate into different bathrooms."

Below: Indianapolis Zoo's full statement on escaped cheetah.

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Knight said she was told the cheetah somehow got onto the "beaver bridge" and managed to escape its enclosure.

"We were in the bathroom for about 20 minutes, then they said we could leave but had to go toward the front of the zoo," she said. "So we were kind of hanging out, then they said everyone had to go back inside and we were rushed into the aquarium."

Several zoo visitors took to Twitter about the cheetah, which was reportedly still on the loose as of 10:20 a.m. Bob Kevoian, of "Bob & Tom," also chimed in with a lighter look at the situation.

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The zoo tweeted about 10 minutes after 11 a.m. that all cheetahs were safely back in their holding cells.

Zoo spokeswoman Judy Palermo gave the following statement after the lockdown was lifted:

"First I want to report that all of our guests, all of our staff and all of our cheetahs are safe, and the cheetahs are back in holding.

What happened was one of our cheetahs was able to somehow get out of the main enclosure and go up behind the fence and was laying in some landscape between the barrier exhibit and guests.

When our staff noticed that we immediately went into our crisis protocol which we practice all the time. We do drills all the time in case this would ever happen.

Immediately all guests were taken out of the area. The zoo went on a lockdown. What happens is all the guests are taken to safe places and buildings and the doors are locked. No one can come in or out of the zoo.

Our emergency response team went to the cheetah area. The cheetah was still lying down in the landscape area. They were able to dart it and sedate it. Once it was darted it immediately went back down into the exhibit and went into holding on its own."

The cheetah exhibit will remain closed with the zoo investigates the escape.

Palermo said the cheetah was one of two new brothers that came to the zoo from San Diego a week ago.

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