Indianapolis Zoo cheetah exhibit closed for investigation

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A cheetah that escaped from an enclosure at the Indianapolis Zoo forced an hour-long lock down of zoo guests before staff found and tranquilized the animal.
    
Visitors to the zoo just west of downtown Indianapolis were told to seek shelter about 9:30 a.m. Sunday after the cheetah escaped from its primary holding area.
    
Zoo spokeswoman Judy Palermo says the cheetah never left the zoo's grounds and the lock down was lifted about an hour later after staff found and tranquilized the big cat.
    
Palermo says no zoo guests or staffers were injured during the incident.
    
She says the zoo's cheetahs are in a holding area, but zoo guests are not permitted near the cheetah exhibit because an investigation is under way to determine how the cheetah escaped.

There were long lines to enter the zoo Sunday morning on Labor Day Weekend, but crowds were not allowed in for about an hour. Those already inside zoo grounds were rushed into buildings. 

"The employees were doing a very good job of politely moving us along and I kept quizzing them, 'Are we in danger?' 'Well, we need you to be in a secure place,' is what they said," Greg Staub, a zoo visitor, told WTHR.
 
Staub was visiting with his daughter from Valparaiso. They were near the Plains exhibit when they were asked to move. 

"I was confused, I wasn't sure what was happening. It wasn't like, 'oh my goodness, leave now, you're going to die,' but the guy was like, 'okay, you need to move this way, we're going to ask you to go out of the plains right now,' so I wasn't sure what was happening," said his daughter Rachel.
 
A four-year-old male cheetah somehow cleared a wall in his exhibit space and made it into a grassy area next to a fence, still enclosed but close enough risk to the public to declare a "code red" or emergency for an escaped animal. 
 
The lockdown went into effect around 9:45 Sunday morning and was lifted at 10:15 after the escaped cheetah was tranquilized and removed from the exhibit.
 
"We have to see how did he get up, are there any other places we need to double-check, since we have these new cheetahs here and we will not put any of the cheetahs out until we fix whatever we need to fix," said Palermo.

Zoo operations continued as normal, with one exception: the cheetah exhibit was empty.  The cheetah that escaped and his brother will be kept indoors for now.
 
"I didn't feel like we were in any danger at any point in time, but you could tell it was something serious just by the looks on the faces of the employees," said Staub.
 
As for Greg and his daughter,   It's a trip to the zoo they'll never forget.