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New Delhi - A leopard on the loose entered a hospital and sparked panic among patients before it strayed into a city in northern India, prompting the closure of markets and schools on Monday.
The big cat, believed to have strayed from a forest, was first spotted in an army cantonment near Meerut on Sunday.
“The leopard jumped rooftops and walked into a ward. But our staff managed to get all 11 patients out and lock the leopard in,” hospital superintendent Aradhana Pathak said by telephone.
Broadcaster NDTV said police had to use batons to control the crowds and six people were hurt in the commotion caused by panic.
Crowds waited outside the hospital as the animal tried to escape from a window.
“Before the wildlife rescue team could come, it jumped out and escaped. We are told it has slipped into the city,” Pathak said.
Schools and markets were closed in Meerut, 65km north-east of New Delhi, as teams were called to track and capture the animal.
“We are afraid that the leopard might come back, so we have shut down our out-patient department today,” Pathak said.
Rampant deforestation around Indian cities is forcing wild animals to come out of their natural habitats.
Similar incidents have been reported from other states, pointing to a growing conflict for space.