Police say a 2-year-old male lynx has escaped from a zoo in southwestern England.

The wild animal — about the size of a large domestic cat — escaped from the Dartmoor Zoological Park on Thursday morning.

The police force said the animal "should not be approached as it could become dangerous if alarmed or cornered."

Police are urging members of the public to call the 999 emergency helpline if they spot the free feline.

Police have called in a helicopter to search for the wild cat. Officers are also visiting local schools to offer safety advice, and going house-to-house asking people to remain indoors.

The lynx is a stealthy predator that has been extinct in Britain for over 1,000 years and remains endangered in parts of Europe.