Snow Leopard shot dead after it escaped zoo enclosure through a cage door left ajar by keeper
According to Dudley Zoo director Derek Grove, staff were 'heartbroken' by the death of Margaash but emphasized that he 'did not suffer'
A snow leopard that managed to escape from its enclosure at Dudley Zoo has been shot and killed. The eight-year-old animal, named Margaash, allegedly escaped from the compound after the cage door was left open by a keeper, zoo officials confirmed. Details from the incident were released today following the conclusion of a disciplinary investigation, although the escape took place on October 23 at around 5 pm when all the visitors had left the site.
Speaking to Birmingham Live, a zoo spokesman said: "Unfortunately, having no other option in the interest of public safety, the animal was euthanized by a senior member of the firearms team with a single shot and did not suffer. Once keepers saw snow leopard Margaash outside, the animal escape procedure was implemented and managers were notified, while the firearms team managed the incident."
The prime focus of the zoo management has been to "fully investigate what happened and carry out a stringent review" of all zoo enclosure security, officials said. The disciplinary investigation came into play after it was understood that the enclosure was left open through keeper error.
Zoo director Derek Grove said: "This was an incredibly sad incident and our staff are understandably heartbroken. Euthanasia is, and always will be, a last resort. Efforts to persuade Margaash to return to his enclosure failed and as the animal was close to surrounding woodland and darkness was approaching, the vet did not believe a tranquilizer dart was a safe option due to the amount of time the drug takes to work. Safety of the public is always of paramount importance and our staff are highly experienced and rigorously trained."
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Several animal sympathizers on social media argued why the zoo had elected to shoot Margaash dead rather than trying to sedate him.
Marc James Mattinson said: "no visitors as he escaped after the zoo was closed, why the hell didn't you tranq him instead of killing him?"
Michelle Palfreeman argued: "Poor snow leopard. U should off darted him not kill him. One of my favorite animals. The person who left the door open should be fired!!!!!"
Zoe Durnin added: "I have to say I am an annual member have been for years and have always fiercely supported you but this bitterly disappoints me! I don't think it was necessary to kill that poor animal, I may think twice before renewing my membership next year. Let's hope nothing like this ever happens again and a review of your staff training is already underway!!"
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All zookeepers were informed to be able to explain the extremely difficult circumstances to visitors who had questions. Those who adored the much-loved snow leopard were told of the heartbreaking incident shortly after it happened.
Margaash came to Dudley Zoo in September 2011 where he was accompanied by three-year-old female Taïga, after having been born at Banham Zoo in Norfolk in May 2010, Mirror reports.