A snow leopard has been shot and killed after escaping from its enclosure at Dudley Zoo.
The eight-year-old leopard named Margaash, which belongs to the threatened species originating from Central and South Asia, broke free from his enclosure after a zoo keeper left it open.
The incident happened on October 23rd at around 5pm when all visitors had left the site, but details were only released today following the conclusion of a disciplinary investigation.
A spokesman for Dudley Zoo told Birmingham Live:
“Unfortunately, having no other option in the interest of public safety, the animal was euthanised 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 zoo said its prime focus has been to “fully investigate what happened and carry out a stringent review” of all zoo enclosure security.
The door to the enclosure was left open through keeper error which has resulted in a disciplinary investigation of those involved.
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 dark was approaching, the vet did not believe a tranquiliser 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.”
People were angered by the news, with many blaming the incompetence of the West Midlands zoo:
One person said: “no visitors as he escaped after the zoo was closed, why the hell didnt you tranq him instead of killing him?”
Another added: “Poor snow leopard. U should off darted him not kill him. One off my favourite animals. The person who left the door open should be fired!!!!!”
Margaash was born at Banham Zoo in Norfolk in May 2010 and came to Dudley Zoo in September 2011,
He lived with the three-year-old female Taïga.
There are only 4,000 snow leopards left living in the wild, spread over 12 countries.
Images via Dudley Zoo/Wikipedia