Two female brown bears were shot dead at Whipsnade Zoo in Bedfordshire after escaping from their enclosure when high winds toppled a tree.
The zoo’s chief curator, Malcolm Fitzpatrick, said in a statement that the tree had fallen in such a way that it formed a “bridge” between the brown bear enclosure and the fence of the nearby boar enclosure. .
The two bears entered the enclosure, where they attacked a male boar. Fitzpatrick said zookeepers had no choice but to euthanize the bears for fear of an “immediate threat to human life.”
“As brown bears are strong and dangerous predators, our first priority is safety – we must quickly make decisions informed by our experience and expertise to protect our people, our guests and our other animals,” he said. declared.
“No one wants to be the only one making this call, but when there is an immediate threat to human life, the decision is made for you. Colleagues involved today experienced the terrible situation that every veterinarian and caretaker trains hard for, but hopes will never come true. I ask you to support them in the weeks to come as they apprehend today’s events. “
Fitzpatrick said it would not have been practical to use a tranquilizer to calm bears, as it would have taken up to 20 minutes to work, “during which the animals can become unpredictable and aggressive as the adrenaline rushes. crosses them. We had to intervene immediately to make sure the bears did not come out of the boar enclosure, which has a low fence.
A third bear who has not left the compound has been called to his inner den and taken to safety. Vets are treating the injured boar and the fallen tree has been removed.
Fitzpatrick promised a full investigation into the incident. “I am devastated by the outcome of this morning’s incident, but I am convinced that our actions have avoided further loss of life,” he said.