An escaped snow leopard has been shot dead by staff at Dudley Zoo, after a keeper left a cage door open.

Margaash the snow leopard was eight years old when he escaped his enclosure. He paid the ultimate price when staff decided he must be shot to prevent his escape from the zoo grounds.

The zoo claimed they had ‘no option’ but to kill the leopard however Freedom for Animals are calling for a full investigation into the incident and asks why a tranquiliser shot was not used instead.

Campaigns Director, Nicola O’Brien stated:

“Heart-breakingly, this individual has lost his life, after being killed by the very people who put him in this situation in the first place. Margaash was not at fault for wanting to escape the confines of his cage, he was a wild animal with a desire to roam free.”

This incident is the latest is a long line of animal escapes from UK zoos and Margaash is not the only animal to have died.  

Animals like Lillieth the lynx, who was shot dead after escaping her enclosure from Borth Zoo in Wales last year. Or the tragic story of the horned lewche (a type of antelope) who escaped Paignton Zoo in 2016. He was caught successfully with a tranquiliser dart but was later killed by the zoo as they said he could not be reintroduced to his group and they had no where else to put him.

When a cheetah escaped his enclosure at Howletts Wild Animal Park earlier this month, he killed two deer. Flaviu the lynx was free for three weeks in 2016 after he escaped through a panel in his enclosure that was reportedly inadequate.

Nicola continued,

“Too frequently we are seeing animals put at risk of injury or death due to poor zoo management. When the animals are potentially dangerous to the public, like leopards, their lives are put on the line. This is yet another reason why keeping wild animals in captivity is to their detriment.“

Freedom for Animals believes wild animals should not be held captive. Not only can captivity never meet the needs of wild animals, it also too often puts their welfare and even their lives at risk. To find out more about our work to help animals in zoo, visit our Zoo Campaign page