SALT LAKE CITY -- Staff at Hogle Zoo are working to locate and contain a small Pallas' cat found to be missing by zookeepers Sunday morning.
According to a press release from Hogle Zoo, Mushu the 10-month-old Pallas' cat is not dangerous and the zoo remains open. The cat weights about eight pounds.
Pallas' cats are extremely elusive, according to the release, and zoo keepers noted the cat was missing from its outside habitat Sunday around 8 a.m. as they began doing rounds.
"Pallas' cats are mostly big balls of fluff, meaning they`re really, really hairy cats and they can really shimmy into some tight nooks and crannies," explained Hogle Zoo's Manager of Community Relations, Erica Hansen. "Even their heads are kind of flat shaped so it can really flatten them out and get them into the tiniest of places."
Keepers spotted small paw prints near the enclosure and believe he may have climbed out past the anti-climb barriers and through the top mesh. No breaches of the top mesh were found upon closer inspection, however, and the exhibit will remain closed while it is inspected thoroughly.
"Sometimes animals can give you a little bit of a run for your money," Hansen said. "All of the standards here are industry standards, so we are compliant with all of those measures."
As a precaution, all other mesh enclosures in the Asian Highlands area of the zoo have been re-examined.
Hogle Zoo states Pallas' cats are "extremely elusive and tend to hunker down making them difficult to spot. Keepers not that Mushu is a very shy and reserved cat."
While staff have found numerous paw prints, they note that Pallas' cats have paws the same size as many nearby feral and domesticated cats.
The zoo says cats typically return to familiar surroundings, particularly when it comes to meal times. They say the zoo is fully staffed and equipped with live box traps, including infrared camera traps. Keepers are also planting familiar scents and have food ready.
Mushu was born at Hogle Zoo March 28, 2017, along with four siblings. The litter of cats is now considered fully grown.
Zookeepers say Mushu had recently begun showing signs of aggression toward his brother, Pabu, which is common among cats their age as Pallas' cats are solitary in the wild.
Keepers separated the pair a few days ago, and Saturday was Mushu's second day in the enclosure by himself.
Pallas' cats live in rocky, mountainous regions in central Asia. They generally live above 10,000 feet and are extremely elusive and adapted for life in cold temperatures. The cats eat rodents and birds and are excellent ambush predators, the press release states.
Mushu usually comes out at dawn and dusk, so keepers think he was just hunkered down somewhere during daylight hours.
"Odds are good he'll come back tonight when the sun sets," Hansen said Sunday afternoon. "That's our hope and we'll have staff here ready to welcome him."