A black panther recaptured last week after prowling the roofs of a northern French town has been stolen from the zoo where it was held, officials say.
Zoo employees in Maubeuge found the gate of the feline’s pen broken when they arrived for work on Tuesday.
Last Wednesday, astonished residents in the town of Armentières gazed at the animal walking on a roof.
The panther, a six-month-old female, was caught by the fire brigade after escaping from her owner’s home.
A vet was able to tranquilise her with a dart. The panther, weighing about 20kg (45lb), was then moved to the Maubeuge Zoo.
She had been domesticated by her owner and was not at all aggressive, Kader Laghouati from the Animal Protection League organisation in Lille told La Voix du Nord newspaper.
The animal’s claws had been clipped and she was in good health, he added.
The owner – whose name has not been revealed – is now being sought by the French authorities for endangering the lives of local residents.
An investigation into the panther’s disappearance from the zoo is under way, with police analysing CCTV footage.