(WICHITA, Kan.) — The rare leopard that injured a child earlier this year is back on display at the Sedgwick County Zoo. Nia returned home to record breaking temperatures but the cat is glad to be home in spite of the heat.
"It is hot, that's all i can say. It is hot," said one Zoo visitor.
While people at the Zoo turn to water misters and snow cones to cool off, the bears take to the shade; using as little energy as possible until it's time to cool off. The bears have no problem wading in the water to enjoy a popsicle of their own half of a frozen watermelon.
"The frozen treats cool them down and it takes longer to eat so it's a cooling agent that's with them a lot longer throughout the day," said Christen Baumer with the Sedgwick County Zoo.
But there is one animal that doesn't mind the sun so much, Nia, a rare leopard is just glad to be home. She's been in a holding area since an accident involving a seven year old boy. Witnesses say the boy climbed the outside fence getting close enough to the leopard for her to grab him.
The boy is okay but Zoo officials have been busy making changes to the exhibit, making sure everything is safe.
"We added more perching and hiding holes for her," Baumer said.
Zoo officials also changed the fencing around the leopard exhibit. It used to be made out of metal now its this made out of eucalyptus. Officials say it discourages parents from sitting kids on it, from people climbing over it, and they say it just looks better.
"She's enjoying her time back," said Baumer.
Friday was the Leopard's first day back, Zoo officials say after observation and scrutiny of policies, they've determined Nia isn't a danger to anyone who follows the rules.
Zoo officials also submitted the accident information to the USDA for review. They haven't received any word that changes will be necessary.
Nia is one of the few left of her kind. There are only 35 to 50 Amur leopards left surviving in the wild. It's just one reason the Zoo says it's happy to have Nia back.