A leopard was seen briefly at a popular mall and a hotel in Maharashtra’s Thane district on Wednesday morning, PTI reported. Forest officials caught the animal after more than six hours after it was first spotted.

The leopard was first seen in the parking area of Korum Mall around 5.30 am. Passersby then alerted police and forest officials, but the animal could not be found in a search operation for over two hours, regional disaster management cell chief Santosh Kadam said.

The officials concluded that the leopard might have escaped from the premises, but it was later spotted in the basement of a nearby hotel, Kadam said.

Forest officials finally managed to tranquilise the animal in the basement around 11.50 am. An unidentified official said the animal would be released at the Sanjay Gandhi National Park after an examination.

Closed-circuit television cameras at the mall showed the leopard hiding behind a staircase before running into a dark corridor. Residents in the area have been told not to venture out, an official said.

Forest officials told the Hindustan Times that the leopard was last seen moving towards the nearby Vasant Vihar residential society. The mall will remain closed on Wednesday.