Lynx is still on the run, but owners are confident wild cat is still in area
FLAVIU, the Carpathian lynx that escaped from Dartmoor Zoo last week, is still roaming the countryside, as police and park staff continue to search for the wild cat.
Benjamin Mee, owner of Dartmoor Zoo told the Gazette on Tuesday: ‘We’re confident Flaviu is still in the area.
‘He’s been taking food from the traps, which is good news.
‘The police have now closed the footpaths in the area, and are asking for people to stay away.’
Flaviu had only been at the park for 12 hours, arriving from Port Lympne Wild Animal Park in Kent, when he escaped by chewing through his boundary wall overnight on Wednesday, July 6.
Dartmoor Zoo are in the process of tracking down a recording of Flaviu’s mother, Klementyna, in the hope of broadcasting a recording across the area to try and lure Flaviu back to captivity.
Mr Mee continued: ‘We’ve spoken to Flaviu’s previous owners, and he’s used to humans, so we’re hoping to establish a pattern and hope he becomes familiar with those searching for him.
‘We think he might be missing his mum, and perhaps has gone off looking for her.
‘The important thing though is that people stay away from the area – if you go nearby you, you will be arrested.’
Flaviu is described as a ‘little bit smaller than a cocker spaniel, weighing roughly 20 kilos.’
‘He’s a small animal, and poses no threat to humans, only rabbits,’ Mr Mee added.
The escape of the two-year-old rare cat from the zoological park in Sparkwell caused panic last week as staff and police scoured the countryside and children were warned to stay indoors.
Staff believe that the animal to be on farmland near Sparkwell, close to Dartmoor Zoo.
A spokesperson for Devon and Cornwall police said on Monday: ‘Following several credible sightings of the lynx since it escaped, park staff are confident enough to put into place a humane capture plan concentrating on one area of Dartmoor.
‘Any activity in this area, such as trying to get photographs, runs the risk of alarming the animal and possibly making it move on and thus making it harder to find.
‘There is also a small risk that if alarmed the lynx could injure anyone who does not understand its potential behaviour in such circumstances.’
Park staff have set 25 humane traps baited with meat in the area where experts believe the animal is hiding.
A vet with a tranquilliser dart gun is available if required, but staff at the park are confident that hunger will make the lynx enter one of the traps.
It was initially hoped that the rare animal would be discovered inside the zoo’s perimeter fence, but this was dashed after a search by staff and police found no sign of the animal.
The hunt was then widened to include the local area, and the National Police Air Service helicopter was deployed to help the search.
Meanwhile, officers went door-to-door in nearby Sparkwell and surrounding areas to ’offer advice’ in the event of any sightings of the animal, and rushed to All Saints Primary School and the local nursery to warn children to stay indoors.
Police drones equipped with thermal imaging equipment were used overnight on Thursday and again on Friday last week to search for Flaviu, and his location was narrowed down to a field following a sighting by a member of zoo staff.
The Carpathian lynx is a subspecies of the Eurasian lynx found in the Carpathian mountains in central and eastern Europe.
The population is estimated at just 2,000 individuals, and the cats can grow up to 65 centimetres at the shoulder.
More powerfully built than a domestic cat, their ambush style of attack means they rarely run, but will leap from several metres away or out of a tree onto unsuspecting prey.
The spokesperson for Devon and Cornwall Police added: ’If members of the public sight it, they should call 999 immediately quoting log 252 of Thursday, July 7.
‘The animal should not be approached.
‘If any member of the public or community leader has any queries of concerns they should contact police by emailing email@example.com or by calling 101, again quoting quoting log 252.’