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  1. ITV Report

Snow Leopard shot and killed at Dudley Zoo after escaping

A snow leopard was killed at Dudley Zoo when it was shot by a zoo keeper after escaping its enclosure, when the door was left open through keeper error.

Snow Leapard Margaash was shot and killed after escaping his enclosure Credit: Dudley Zoo

The zoo confirmed today that the eight-year-old male was euthanised with a single shot from a senior member of the zoo's firearms team, and they say it did not suffer.

The zoo says the leopard named Margaash was shot in the 'interest of public safety'.

Bosses at the zoo say once keepers saw the snow leopard outside its enclosure, the zoo's escape procedures began, managers were told and the firearms team were deployed.

It happened on October 23rd at around 5pm, after the zoo had closed and all visitors had left the site.

The zoo says there has been a disciplinary investigation into those involved in the enclosure door being left open.

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 tranquiliser 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.

– Derek Grove, Dudley Zoo director

The zoo says visitors who adopted the animal were told he had died shortly after it happened, and all keepers were given details to be able to tell visitors what happened.

Margaash was born at Benham Zoo in Norfolk in May 2010, and had been at Dudley Zoo since September 2011, where he lived with three-year-old female Taïga.

There are only between 4,000 and 6,590 snow leopards left in the wild, according to the World Wildlife Foundation, which lists the species as 'vulnerable'.