ANIMAL activists have slammed a zoo after a snow leopard was shot dead after escaping from a zoo enclosure – when its door was left OPEN by a zookeeper.
Eight-year-old Margaash fled his £50,000 compound at Dudley Zoo following the keeper’s error.
Margaash the snow leopard got out of his enclosure and had to be euthanised
Staff at the West Midlands zoo insist there was “no other option” than to euthanise the big cat – but have been met with questions over why it could not have been tranquillised instead.
A spokesman said it was “in the interest of public safety” after it escaped on October 23.
Zoo keepers had tried to get the endangered animal back in his enclosure but he was close to surrounding woodland, with dark approaching.
They added a tranquiliser would have taken too long to work.
A disciplinary investigation found that a zookeeper left the animal’s enclosure door open
The zoo said they were heartbroken over the incident
Horrified animal lovers and campaign groups have today slammed the zoo after details emerged of the shooting.
Elisa Allen, Director of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) said: “Snow leopards, like all animals – humans included – want to be free.
“When animals who have been imprisoned, like Margaash, see an opportunity to escape their dreary lives, they often take it.
“Sadly, these acts of self-liberation are often their last, as many once-captive animals who attempt to follow their natural instincts are killed.
“Zoos are in the business of misery and death – from taking wild animals from their homelands and disrupting their familial bonds to subjecting them to totally unnatural living conditions.
“Holding them captive is one tragedy that often leads to another – and the days of facilities that charge people to see depressed and deprived animals behind bars are numbered.”
Many said they were left in tears
Members of the public revealed their devastation at the news
Many pointed out the leopard was not at fault
The snow leopard enclosure, pictured today
The big cat had recently moved into his £50,000 enclosure
Animal lovers also took to Twitter to flag their devastation at the big cat’s death with one writing: “50k enclosure…Margaash escapes from it and is shot dead rather than tranquillised. Does not sound like 50k well spent.
“I await the results of your ‘stringent review’ into how Margaash escaped and hope those responsible are held accountable. The public deserve an explanation.”
Another added: “it says in the report it was getting dark and he was in the woodland, they didn’t think the tranq would work in time.
“It’s heartbreaking, I’ve seen Margaash many times over the years, so stunning. In tears rn.”
A third said: “You are just evil. The animal didn’t deserve to die just becuz one of your idiot staff didn’t close the enclosure prop.
“I will not be returning to a zoo that thinks it’s ok to kill a defenceless animal.”
COULD THEY HAVE BEEN SAVED? How Margaash the snow leopard is the latest animal to be shot dead in zoo emergency
THE death of the snow leopard Margaash has left animal lovers devastated.
Many have questioned why a tranquiliser was not used in the incident at the Dudley Zoo, despite the explanation from staff.
However, it’s not the first time that zoos have come under fire for using firearms to deal with escaped animals.
One of the most notable cases was that of Harambe.
Harambe was a gorilla that was kept in Cincinnati Zoo, Ohio, who hit the headlines after he was shot by a worker at the tourist attraction.
After a three-year-old boy climbed into the enclosure, a zoo employee took the decision to shoot the primate for the tot’s safety.
A bear was also shot dead after escaping from a German zoo earlier this year.
Residents had been warned to stay inside their homes after reports animals had escaped.
And in another incident this year, a lion was shot dead at a zoo in Belgium after escaping its cage.
The female lion escaped its enclosure at Planckendael Zoo, but did not get out of the zoo grounds.
Today, the zoo revealed a disciplinary investigation found the door of the enclosure had been left open due to “keeper error”.
There are only 4,000 snow leopards left living in the wild, spread over 12 countries.
Dudley Zoo director, Derek Grove, said staff were “heartbroken” over the incident.
He 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.
The animal had got out of the new compound after a door was left open
The snow leopard got close to surrounding woodland after it escaped, leading to the decision to euthanise it
Snow leopards are endangered
People have spoken out of their devastation around the death of Margaash
“Safety of the public is always of paramount importance and our staff are highly experienced and rigorously trained.”
There were no visitors at the zoo at the time.
The zoo said that Margaash was euthanised with a single shot.
Margaash had moved into the revamped enclosure in February this year.
The improvement project doubled the size of the enclosure to “give the animals more space and visitors better views of the big cats”.
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Visitors had recently “adopted” the much-loved snow leopard shortly before its death.
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.