Runaway Wolf Killed

Thursday, June 9, 2011 - 3:43pm

Animal shot moments after escaping enclosure at Minnesota Zoo.

The Minnesota Zoo is reviewing its wolf holding area for possible weaknesses after a Mexican gray wolf escaped from the enclosure and was killed minutes later.

On Wednesday around 10 a.m., zoo officials say an 8-year-old male wolf found a weak spot in the chain link holding area and nudged his way into an outer enclosure.

He then jumped an 8-foot fence to gain access to the public area of the zoo.

It was at that point that the zoo staff switched its strategy of how to recapture the wolf.

"Last thing we want to do is kill one of our animals. We would've chosen to tranquilize him if we had had the option. However, in that situation the wolf can be threatening and can be aggressive. And we don't want to take the chance," said Tony Fisher, the zoo's animal collections manager.

Fisher said the staff also couldn't rely on a tranquilizer, given that it can take a while for the drugs to take effect.

The animal can also become more aggressive during that time.

Meantime, the wolf strolled past several startled zoo visitors.

"I think he was scared," said Samantha Hoffman, who was at the zoo with her father, Duane, and classmates as part of a school fieldtrip.

"We're walking across the wooden bridge in between the camels and the Alaskan Wild Horses, and we're about half-way across when I first saw it. And I actually kind of froze," said Duane Hoffman, who was able to capture a picture of the moving wolf.

"You would never expect that at the zoo," Hoffman said, adding, "that's a scary deal."

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