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Wolf shot dead after escaping from wildlife park

Ember with her cubs Credit: Cotswold Wildlife Park

A wolf has been shot dead after escaping from a wildlife park.

Ember was discovered outside the perimeter fence at Cotswold Wildlife Park in Burford, Oxfordshire, at about 11am on Friday.

In a statement, the park said shooting the three-year-old Eurasian Wolf, who recently gave birth to five cubs, was a "last resort".

Tranquilisers would not have worked in this situation, a spokeswoman told ITV News, adding that it was an "incredibly sad" time for everyone at the park.

The park said in a statement: "Had there been any way to save her we would, of course, have taken it. Euthanasia is, and always would be, our last resort.

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"However, she had somehow escaped her enclosure and had made her way to an area that was beyond the range of a tranquiliser dart, and potentially within reach of a busy road.

"The safety of our visitors, and the public, has to be our priority and our keepers were put in the unenviable position of making a decision that no animal lover should have to make."

Just two months ago, the park celebrated the births of Ember's cubs – the first to be born at the park in its 47-year history.

Ember gave birth to the first cubs in the park's 47-year history Credit: Cotswold Wildlife Park

Fans of the wolf reacted angrily to the news, with one accusing the handlers of being "trigger happy".

Martin Cross wrote on Facebook: "These beautiful cubs are now orphans thanks to trigger happy reactions to a wolf that would not have been a threat to a calm effort to get her back into the enclosure.

"Employ people who understand animals instead of murdering them and making excuses later!"

Paul Tate added: "Shame on you, so sad and unnecessary. You took the easy way and killed."

The park said that measures have been taken to increase security checks while an investigation is ongoing.