Snow leopard shot dead after escaping from enclosure at Dudley Zoo
A snow leopard was shot and killed after the animal escaped its enclosure at Dudley Zoo.
Eight-year-old Margaash broke free from a compound after it was left open by a keeper, zoo officials said.
The animal escaped around 5pm on October 23 – after the popular tourist attraction had closed and all visitors had left the site.
Dudley Zoo director, Derek Grove, today said staff were 'heartbroken' by the death of the animal.
A vet was consulted on whether the animal could have been tranquillised.
But it was believed this would not be an option due to length of time it takes the drug to work.
A zoo spokesman said a disciplinary investigation has been concluded but they would not disclose the outcome.
Margaash was moved into a newly extended £50,000 enclosure with fellow snow leopard Taïga in February.
WATCH: Snow leopards Margaash and Taïga in their enclosure in February
Mr 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 tranquilliser 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."
The zoo said it was with 'enormous sadness' that they confirmed the news and said in the weeks following the incident its focus has been 'to fully investigate what happened and carry out a stringent review of all zoo enclosure security.'
Visitors who adopted the much-loved Margaash were told of the devastating incident shortly after it happened and all keepers were informed.
Actor and comedian Ricky Gervais, who advocates animals rights via social media campaigns, was among those to voice their concerns over the incident.
Margaash was born at Banham Zoo in Norfolk in May 2010 and came to Dudley Zoo in September 2011, where he lived with our three-year-old female Taïga.
The species is classed as 'vulnerable' by the World Wildlife Fund.
Dudley Council is the licencing authority for the zoo and were notified about the death of the snow leopard.
Councillor Cathryn Bayton, cabinet member responsible for public health, said: “We were hugely saddened to hear of the death of Margaash the snow leopard, which is a huge loss to Dudley Zoo.
“The zoo notified us immediately of the actions they had to take to ensure public safety and we are satisfied, as the licensing authority, that they fully complied with the zoo licensing act which puts public safety uppermost.
"We fully support the actions they took and will be working with them, offering support and advice following this most unfortunate incident, and have every faith in their ability to deliver on the terms of their licence.
“The zoo followed their animal escape procedure and consulted with their vet.
"DEFRA nominated inspectors will be asked to offer any further advice or guidance during the licence renewal inspection in February.
"The Zoo also have referred this incident to their trustee ethics committee as well as their own internal trustee health and safety team and we have full trust that the zoo will continue to be transparent and thorough in all of these matters.
“The zoo has and will continue to review its safety procedures and the security of its enclosures to ensure the ongoing safety of visitors, alongside the welfare and safety of its animals at this much loved local attraction.”
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