Oct. 17 (UPI) -- A routine drill at an Ohio zoo turned into a neighborhood panic when rumors swirled that a jaguar had actually escaped from the facility.
The Akron Zoo held a drill Tuesday that involved a zookeeper walking around with a photo of a jaguar and mimicking the big cat's movements to practice the facility's response to an animal escape situation.
The drill involved the Akron Police Department's SWAT team and was discussed on the local police radio, leading a follower of police scanner chatter to mistake the drill for a real escape situation.
Rumors quickly circulated on social media that the zoo's female jaguar, Bella, had escaped, leading the zoo to receive a flood of calls from concerned neighbors and schools planning field trips.
The zoo explained on Facebook that the incident was only a drill.
"At the Akron Zoo we run a minimum of four safety drills a year to practice our skills and response times to potential incidents," the post said. "This morning we ran our required dangerous animal escape drill. This scenario involved our jaguar Bella. Once again, this was a drill with a scripted scenario."
"Bella never left her habitat and is safe and warm inside," zoo officials wrote.
Linda Criss, the zoo's vice president of communications, said the zoo's drills are always held before visitors arrive or after they leave for the day.
"We don't want to create any uncertainty for our guests," she told the Akron Beacon-Journal.