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Wild Leopard Runs Amok Through Hospital and Cinema in Meerut, India [VIDEO]

Feb 25, 2014 10:51 AM EST

A wild leopard running loose through a densely populated Indian city eluded capture by local wildlife officials, causing injuries and rattling many residents. 

To protect residents from the leopard, which has reportedly prowled through a hospital, a cinema and an apartment block in a residential area, authorities closed local schools and colleges Monday and urged some shopkeepers to temporarily close in the city of Meerut, which is 37 miles (60km) northeast of the Indian capital New Delhi.

The leopard has injured at least seven people, including a police official, in Meerut, the Hindustan Times reported. Wildlife officials in Meerut tried to capture the big cat, but the city of 3.5 million's porous infrastructure and throngs of locals keen to catch a glimpse of the animal have hampered attempts to contain it.

"Despite our best efforts, we have been unable to track the leopard down. We have launched a massive hunt for the beast," additional district magistrate S.K. Dubey told the AFP.

The leopard was initially spotted Sunday in an empty ward of an army hospital, and wildlife officers were summoned to the scene. They managed to fire a tranquilizer dart into the leopard, the AFP reported, but Dubey said the leopard managed to escape the hospital ward.

According to the Times of India, local wildlife officials were poorly equipped to contain the leopard and were unaware of the proper tranquilizer dosage required to down the wild cat. The leopard, which was "agitated" and "high on adrenaline" caused panic among hospital patients and staff and was "nearly caught" before it broke through a glass window and escaped the hospital.

"He then sneaked into the premises of a cinema hall before entering an apartment block. After that we lost track of the cat," he told the AFP.

Citing local forest officials, the Times of India reported that there was a "high possibility of the wild cat having left the city for its natural habitat" late in the night.

Schools were to reopen in Meerut Tuesday, the Times of India said.

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