Two brown bears from the Whipsnade zoo were shot after escaping from their enclosure.
Whipsnade Zoo Chief described the break away as an “immediate threat to human life” that forced the keepers to shoot them dead amid backlash from animal lovers who do not use tranquiliser darts. Strong winds resulted in the fall of a tree forming a makeshift bridge between the fence of the brown bear enclosure and that of a neighboring wild boar.
The bears Snow White and Sleeping Beauty - both female - were euthanized after they found their way to the neighboring enclosure and viciously attacked a male boar. Malcolm Fitzpatrick, the zoo curator at Bedfordshire released a statement describing the bears as “strong and dangerous predators” further saying it was an “incredibly upsetting day.” He went on to say that a full investigation on the incident will be conducted.
ZSL Whipsnade defends the swift response as purposefully driven to protect people, guests, and other animals. He further described the situation as an “immediate threat to human life.”
He argued that the decision not to have the bears tranquilized was rational as this takes 20 minutes before it kicks in. Nevertheless, social media users were up in arms over the zoo’s drastic actions. ZSL is the international charity that runs both the Whipsnade and London zoos. It was founded in 1826.
Mr. Fitzpatrick also described the European brown bears to be “strong and dangerous predators.” Further mentioning how their emergency response team arrived at the “site of the incident” and made a quick judgment call. It turns out that the injured boar too will get equal care, same as the zoo staff members involved in the incident.
It took only 18 minutes from the time of the incident for the situation to be brought under control. There is still no mention of whether the zoo remained open to the public at this time.
A third bear, Cinderella who remained in her enclosure, was secured in her indoor den as the fallen tree was removed. Social media animal rights activists have recently come under fire for shooting those bears. They insisted that their actions prevented “further loss of life.”
It is not often that a brown bear attacks a human. Usually, they avoid human contact altogether. Less than 40 bear attacks are recorded annually, with the majority of Europe’s attacks happening in Romania.
CNN reports that Whipsnade Zoo will celebrate her 90th birthday on Sunday. Activities such as trails, arts, and craft and treasure hunt will carry on for a week as of May 29. There are over 3500 animals in the zoo including cheetahs, lemurs, and penguins. According to Bear Conservation, the European brown bear is the largest species of bear, and its females range in weight from 100 to 250 kilograms (220 to 551 pounds).