Thane: Shopping malls are a hot favourite with residents of Thane at weekend. But, it seems, even denizens of the jungle have started unwinding themselves at city plazas.

But even by standards of animal kingdom, this one takes the cake: A leopard was spotted loitering at a shopping mall and a hotel on Wednesday morning and caught by forest officials after a gruelling six-hour wait. The big cat was initially thought to be a panther but, thankfully, it turned out to be a leopard. The feline creature was caught from the basement of the hotel located at Pokhran Road around 11.50 am, a senior forest official said.

The carnivore was first seen on the prowl in Korum Mall in Samata Nagar around 5.30 am; the right-thinking citizens alerted the police and the forest officials. The police and the forest officials rushed to the mall but after searching the premises three hours, concluded that the animal must have escaped by scaling the compound wall.

The leopard was later spotted at a housing complex and then in the hotel basement near the mall. Forest officials managed to tranquilise it in the hotel basement before carting it away, he said, adding that the animal would be released in the Sanjay Gandhi National Park after an examination. We hope it has not turned a shopaholic.

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