The 3ft stuffed toy scared pedestrians and caused a traffic jam in Xiamen city.
A witness told Xiamen Daily: "Dogs were scared and passers-by were running for their lives. Some of them ran into traffic, causing a back-up."
Eventually, police officers arrived with an armed anaesthetist from the local Haicang Zoo.
"After observing for a while, we saw the leopard was stationary, so one of the officers gingerly went ahead and touched it. Then we realised it's a toy," said a police spokesman.