Santiago, March 28 (IANS) A puma was found roaming the empty streets of the Chilean capital city of Santiago amid a curfew imposed by the government in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.
The puma was seen padding freely through the streets of the busy Providencia and Nunoa neighbourhoods on Friday in the capital, which was under its second day of curfew from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m., reports Efe news.
Rafael Asenjo, veterinarian and member of the Agricultural and Livestock Service (SAG), told Efe that the animal could have taken advantage of the absence of people under curfew during which it traversed through the premises of a school and the gardens of a private property where it sought shelter.
Several residents of the area alerted the authorities and after an operation by the Carabineros (Chilean Police) and SAG, the wild cat was captured.
After a veterinary examination, which included blood tests, radiography and ultrasounds, the Rehabilitation Center of the National Zoo of Santiago approved its medical discharge, which led the SAG to release the puma into its natural habitat in the Andes mountain range on Friday.
The animal was a young Puma Concolor, a species protected by Chilean law, of approximately one year and two months old, weighing about 30.8 kg.
Pumas, Asenjo said, have “always inhabited the central region of Chile”, especially in the mountain ranges.
In addition, the veterinarian pointed out that other factors such as food shortages caused by drought and urbanization, which has crept further towards the Andes mountain range in recent decades, might also have contributed to the animal’s appearance in the capital.
According to several residents, another puma was sighted on Wednesday in a neighbourhood in the east of the capital.
However, after a three-hour operation, the authorities were unable to find the animal.
Chile has so far reported 1,610 confirmed coronavirus cases with five deaths.