SALT LAKE CITY — The cat came back.
Roughly 36 hours after he was discovered missing from his enclosure at the Hogle Zoo, an escaped Pallas' cat was back home Monday evening.
Zookeepers used a mouse in a trap to lure the mountain cat, named Mushu, out of a small hole near a construction project about 7 p.m., said zoo spokeswoman Erica Hansen.
"He's safe," Hansen said."We had 24-hour presence tonight for getting Mushu," including keepers and security staff.
The shy, 10-month-old critter will remain in quarantine until veteranarians give him a clean bill of health, she added.
The capture took some investigating, with keepers patrolling and temperature-reading cameras showing him in a maintenance area on Sunday night. Zoo staff used the intel to find him and draw him out of hiding Monday after nightfall, when the wild cats are most active.
Mushu, who at only 8 pounds is smaller than many house cats, slipped out of his enclosure in the Asian Highland exhibit sometime between Saturday night and 8 a.m. Sunday when zookeepers making rounds checked his habitat. He remained on the lam overnight Sunday, when a night vision camera captured a shot of him skulking around the maintenance area not far from his enclosure.
Keeper attempted to coax him out with food, appealing smells and a recording of his mother's call.
"He did exactly what we anticipated he would do, which is stay close to what's familiar," Hansen said.
The zoo remained open to guests on Monday as staff members searched for Mushu, who was not considered a danger.
Hansen said the staff would investigate how the cat slipped out of his enclosure and also revisit other exhibits in the same area, and any enclosure with mesh. Zoo staff believe Mushu may have scaled the steel-grade mesh that forms the sides of his habitat, then slipped out of the larger holes in the mesh covering the top.
Zeya, a 4-year-old Amur leopard, escaped her enclosure in the same way in June 2016, climbing into the wooden trellis above the habitat's viewing area to take a nap. Zeya was spotted by a zoo guest, who alerted zookeepers. She was tranquilized and recaptured without incident.
However, the upper perimeter of Mushu's cage is lined with plexiglass panels designed to keep the cats from climbing to the top, Hansen said.
"Plexiglass is something that we really studied with the Pallas' cats before we put it in, we watched them on camera time and time again try to climb it and they couldn't, so if that is fact how he got out, he's very crafty and very wily," Hansen said.
Earlier in the day, Hansen emphasized that the zoo had "all hands of deck" as they search for the fugitive feline.
"We have people that know the species inside and out, we have people who know Mushu inside and out, and we have all the top technology that we can get our hands on to try to get him back," Hansen said. "We are very, very interested in getting this cat back quickly and safely."
Mushu was born at the Hogle Zoo last March, along with four siblings. The day he escaped marked his second day separated from his brother, Pabu.1 comment on this story
The zoo has exhibited Pallas' cats since the opening of the Asian Highlands exhibit in 2006. At the time, the zoo housed three female Pallas' cats, but when Mushu's father — Patenka — arrived in 2015, zookeepers became aware that exhibit modifications needed to be made as he was much more "exploratory" than the female cats, according to Hansen.
Those modifications were made, she said, but this is the first time the zoo has housed juvenile male Pallas' cats.
Pallas' cats are named after German naturalist Peter Simon Pallas.