Mumbai: Leopard enters kindergarten classroom, forest officials nab the big cat after hours

Updated: Dec 11, 2017, 09:27 IST | Ranjeet Jadhav

After an entire day of dodging forest officials, the big cat likely learnt at least one lesson - don't go to school on Sunday

It was a day of learning for a leopard that went to school in Andheri East yesterday. Presumably, no one told the big cat that there is no class on Sundays. It took nearly 12 hours for the Thane Forest Department (Territorial) to rescue the animal after it entered the Junior Crafting nursery school at Sher-E-Punjab early in the morning.

Leopard in Sher territory George K, a resident of the adjoining Sher-E-Punjab Cooperative Housing Society was the first to spot the leopard. "Around 6.30 am, I went to the balcony and was shocked to see a leopard on the wall behind the building; the animal growled and then crossed the barbed wire fence, after which it entered the kindergarten through an opening in the school's wall," said.

CCTV footage shows the leopard prowling on desks in a classroom. Pics/Sayyed Sameer Abedi, Nimesh Dave
CCTV footage shows the leopard prowling on desks in a classroom. Pics/Sayyed Sameer Abedi, Nimesh Dave

The owner of the kindergarten also confirmed the news to the police after watching CCTV footage of the leopard. The school normally opens at 8.30, but as it was Sunday, there were no students. The news spread quickly, and soon, more than 300 people gathered outside the school. Deputy Conservator of Forest (Thane) Dr Jitendra Ramgaonkar arrived at the spot along with Range Forest Officer Santosh Kank and the Thane leopard rescue team as soon as they got the information. To prevent the leopard from escaping, the officials closed the opening in the wall from where the big cat had entered the school.

Over 300 people gathered to watch as officials rescued the leopard from the pre-school
Over 300 people gathered to watch as officials rescued the leopard from the pre-school

The forest department and fire brigade placed nets around the classroom. Finally, at 6.30 pm, the team tranquillised the leopard through a plastic sheet. Range Forest Officer Shailesh Deore and Dr Shailesh Pethe, veterinary officer at the Sanjay Gandhi National Park (SGNP), brought the leopard out safely and took it to the park for medical examination.

DCF Dr Jitendra Ramgaonkar said, "We are happy about the fact that the leopard has been safely rescued from the area by the forest department and SGNP teams. The police department managed the crowd outside effectively, and the fire brigade too helped us a lot."

21
Number of hours the rescue operation lasted

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