Snow Leopard Shot Dead After Escaping UK Zoo Enclosure

Snow leopard shot deadDudley Zoo

A snow leopard has been shot dead after escaping from Dudley Zoo due to a ‘keeper error’.

The magnificent creature, an eight-year-old leopard who.d been named Margaash, broke free from his enclosure after a zoo keeper left it open.

The devastating incident occurred on October 23 at approximately 5pm, after visitors had already left the zoo, leaving members of staff ‘heartbroken’.

However, details have only just been released this morning (November 30), with Dudley Zoo confirming Margaash’s death ‘with enormous sadness’.

This announcement follows a disciplinary investigation into those involved which has now reached a conclusion. The zoo have not confirmed what the outcome of the investigation has been.

Margaash was killed by a single shot made by a senior member of the firearms team, and reportedly did not suffer.

A spokesperson told Birmingham Live how the decision was made ‘in the interest of public safety’:

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.

According to Birmingham Live, Zoo director Derek Grove said there’d been no other choice but to euthanise Margaash:

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.

Dudley Zoo has now reportedly informed those who’d ‘adopted’ Margaash, who was a beloved addition to the West Midlands zoo.

Born in May 2010 at Norfolk’s Banham Zoo, Margaash was taken to Dudley Zoo in September 2011, where he lived alongside three-year-old female snow leopard, Taïga.

In 2013, Margaash fathered Nidara, the first snow leopard cub to be born at the zoo for 12 years. Sadly, Nidara died suddenly when she was just eleven weeks old.

According to WWF UK, the survival of snow leopards in the wild is under threat due to poaching and climate change:

The elegant and well-camouflaged snow leopard is one of the world’s most elusive cats. Thinly spread across 12 countries in central Asia, it’s at home in high, rugged mountain landscapes. But poaching and climate change are now threatening its survival.

The snow leopard has a beautiful, spotted coat, thick enough to insulate them from the cold. Their wide, fur-covered feet distribute their weight over soft snow, like natural snowshoes.

Snow leopards are solitary creatures, and very successful predators, able to kill prey up to three times their own weight.

But poaching and conflict with people have reduced their numbers. They’re suspected to have declined by at least 20% in under two decades – although estimating populations is tricky because these cats are so elusive! [sic]

An extraordinarily beautiful and fascinating animal who brought joy and wonder to countless visitors throughout his life. Rest in peace Margaash.

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