Was the decision to shoot three Colchester Zoo wolves the right one?

Essex County Standard: Was the decision to shoot three Colchester Zoo wolves the right one? Was the decision to shoot three Colchester Zoo wolves the right one?

ANIMAL rights campaigners say the decision to shoot dead three wolves reignites the debate about whether zoos have a place in the 21st century.

Five wolves escaped from their enclosure at Colchester Zoo yesterday.

One returned unharmed and one was tranquilised, but three were killed by marksmen.

Liz Tyson, director of the Captive Animals’ Protection Society, said: “The news from Colchester Zoo is tragic on a number of fronts.

“Not only have these majestic wild animals been forced to spend their entire lives in captivity, but three of them have paid for the zoo’s apparent failure to maintain the enclosure’s perimeter fence with their lives.”

Kate Fowler, head of campaigns at Animal Aid, said: “It is never right to keep wild animals in zoos and, over the years, there have been many escapees.

“For those who truly care about animals, this is a wakeup call. Allowwild animals to stay wild, and let zoos die away.”

Sue McNaught, 46, was walking her dogs at Gosbecks Archaelogical Park, which overlooks the zoo, when the gunshots sounded.

She said: “It is amazing. If wolves can escape from the zoo, any animal can.

“It is quite sad they had to shoot them, but they have got to protect the public. Somany people walk their dogs in this area.”

Phil Watson, chairman of the Anglian Wolf Society, said the chances of a wolf hurting someone were fairly slim, but they could have posed a danger if they had been hand-raised.

He said: “If they haven’t been they will be terrified of humans. They won’t want to go near them so will run away. If they have been handraised, you’ve taken away the fear of human beings.”

Numerous animals have escaped since the zoo opened in 1963.

A young female red river hog escaped from Colchester Zoo in July this year.

Despite a number of sightings, she has still not been caught.

In the Sixties, a wallaby escaped and in the Seventies a bison was on the loose.

Ben Williamson, from the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, said: “When animals which have been denied basic necessities see an opportunity to escape their dreary lives, they often take it.”

Here's what readers think

KATIE WELLS-GREEN: Someone’s
head should be on the line. These
are dangerous animals.
The safety of the public has to be of
paramount importance. Really need
to blame the person in charge.
CHARLOTTE CORNELL: Poor
wolves. It’s not their fault, but the
incompetent staff that wasn’t making
sure their enclosure was safe.
RACHEL SHARPE: “Naturally timid,”
so they shoot them. They are
disgusting. It’s their fault for not
having a safe and secure place for
the animals.
TRACY JOHNSON: Disgusting
murdering the wolves. It’s not their
fault they escaped – they are only
doing what comes naturally.
If they are timid animals, I don't
understand why they would kill them
ZOE ROYAL GISBY-GOULDING:
Sickens me wolves have been killed
because they were obviously too
stupid to notice a massive hole in the
fence

 

 
Video of the wolves in the enclosure, taken five years ago

 

Comments (19)

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10:20am Wed 27 Nov 13

Say It As It Is OK? says...

In answer to the headline. No they should not have been shot!

They did not pose a threat to people and it raises the case, once again, about keeping animals in captivity just for the amusement of the human race. Of course there will be those who say zoos do a valuable job of preserving and maintaining endangered species but that doesn't ring true when in reality the vast majority of animals in captivity are not in the slightest bit on the endangered species list, which includes the Timber Wolf,
In answer to the headline. No they should not have been shot! They did not pose a threat to people and it raises the case, once again, about keeping animals in captivity just for the amusement of the human race. Of course there will be those who say zoos do a valuable job of preserving and maintaining endangered species but that doesn't ring true when in reality the vast majority of animals in captivity are not in the slightest bit on the endangered species list, which includes the Timber Wolf, Say It As It Is OK?

10:23am Wed 27 Nov 13

shelly_lou says...

how can you say wild animals should be allowed to be free into the wild? These animals are well loved and looked after, in a safe place for them to live hell of a lot longer than they would if released into the wild! zoos are constantly working hard to save these animals from poachers etc. Colchester Zoo & all the staff do an amazing job & having to shoot the wolves must have been heartbreaking as these animals become part of the keepers family. It was due to a fence being broken, how many mistakes do people make in their lives? it was an error that caused problems but the zoo needs support to care for these animals not to be slated & bad mouthed, I will support them all the way as I think they all work so hard and do a wonderful job.
how can you say wild animals should be allowed to be free into the wild? These animals are well loved and looked after, in a safe place for them to live hell of a lot longer than they would if released into the wild! zoos are constantly working hard to save these animals from poachers etc. Colchester Zoo & all the staff do an amazing job & having to shoot the wolves must have been heartbreaking as these animals become part of the keepers family. It was due to a fence being broken, how many mistakes do people make in their lives? it was an error that caused problems but the zoo needs support to care for these animals not to be slated & bad mouthed, I will support them all the way as I think they all work so hard and do a wonderful job. shelly_lou

10:46am Wed 27 Nov 13

Eric the Red says...

For whatever reason they got out, shooting them was the right thing. A tranquiliser dart has a very short range measured in feet, and would take a long time to down an unpredictable wild animal. If they had injured/killed animals or people, the shout might well have been 'why didn't they shoot them?'
For whatever reason they got out, shooting them was the right thing. A tranquiliser dart has a very short range measured in feet, and would take a long time to down an unpredictable wild animal. If they had injured/killed animals or people, the shout might well have been 'why didn't they shoot them?' Eric the Red

11:59am Wed 27 Nov 13

rayleigh123 says...

Eric the Red wrote:
For whatever reason they got out, shooting them was the right thing. A tranquiliser dart has a very short range measured in feet, and would take a long time to down an unpredictable wild animal. If they had injured/killed animals or people, the shout might well have been 'why didn't they shoot them?'
Regrettabily, Eric the Red is right

Whilst it is horrible to have to kill anything - you have to lojk at the bigger picture.

They are wild animals and could get into areas where there are people or other animals. A prevous person states - they did not pose a threat to people - how can the police possible accept this statement - what would happen if a wolf was accidentally cornered and then attacked someone - all hell would take place.


.
[quote][p][bold]Eric the Red[/bold] wrote: For whatever reason they got out, shooting them was the right thing. A tranquiliser dart has a very short range measured in feet, and would take a long time to down an unpredictable wild animal. If they had injured/killed animals or people, the shout might well have been 'why didn't they shoot them?'[/p][/quote]Regrettabily, Eric the Red is right Whilst it is horrible to have to kill anything - you have to lojk at the bigger picture. They are wild animals and could get into areas where there are people or other animals. A prevous person states - they did not pose a threat to people - how can the police possible accept this statement - what would happen if a wolf was accidentally cornered and then attacked someone - all hell would take place. . rayleigh123

12:08pm Wed 27 Nov 13

Route88 says...

Say It As It Is OK? wrote:
In answer to the headline. No they should not have been shot!

They did not pose a threat to people and it raises the case, once again, about keeping animals in captivity just for the amusement of the human race. Of course there will be those who say zoos do a valuable job of preserving and maintaining endangered species but that doesn't ring true when in reality the vast majority of animals in captivity are not in the slightest bit on the endangered species list, which includes the Timber Wolf,
I am struggling to understand how an escaped Timber Wolf does NOT pose a threat to people!
[quote][p][bold]Say It As It Is OK?[/bold] wrote: In answer to the headline. No they should not have been shot! They did not pose a threat to people and it raises the case, once again, about keeping animals in captivity just for the amusement of the human race. Of course there will be those who say zoos do a valuable job of preserving and maintaining endangered species but that doesn't ring true when in reality the vast majority of animals in captivity are not in the slightest bit on the endangered species list, which includes the Timber Wolf,[/p][/quote]I am struggling to understand how an escaped Timber Wolf does NOT pose a threat to people! Route88

12:43pm Wed 27 Nov 13

ohdeargod says...

It's stories like these that would prevent me from ever buying the Gazette... Who are we to decide if these wolves should have been shot? What experience or knowledge does the general public have on the subject?

Of course if we had a choice where no one gets shot and everyone lives happily ever after, everyone would go for that. But this is a situation where experts made a call based on their experience and knowledge of the situation. I have complete faith that they made the right call and I'm sure that they felt absolutely terrible doing so. We don't need stupid stories like this to make them feel any worse.
It's stories like these that would prevent me from ever buying the Gazette... Who are we to decide if these wolves should have been shot? What experience or knowledge does the general public have on the subject? Of course if we had a choice where no one gets shot and everyone lives happily ever after, everyone would go for that. But this is a situation where experts made a call based on their experience and knowledge of the situation. I have complete faith that they made the right call and I'm sure that they felt absolutely terrible doing so. We don't need stupid stories like this to make them feel any worse. ohdeargod

12:50pm Wed 27 Nov 13

Monkey1980 says...

The second Colchester Zoo called Essex police, those wolves were as good as dead!
The zoo have firearms licenses but the second the police fire team arrives, THEY take command!
It wouldn't of been the zoo's decisions to kill these animals...the decision would be made by Essex Police!!
They had ground teams & a helicopter (with thermal tracking).
Why oh why did they not shoot the animals with a tranquilliser, instead of live ammo??!!!
I saw the very wolves they're talking about, back in the summer when I visited the zoo...and to think that they have been gunned-down like this, makes me furious!!!
If you can hit an animal with a bullet...you can hit it with a tranquilizer!!
Shame on Essex Police!!!
The second Colchester Zoo called Essex police, those wolves were as good as dead! The zoo have firearms licenses but the second the police fire team arrives, THEY take command! It wouldn't of been the zoo's decisions to kill these animals...the decision would be made by Essex Police!! They had ground teams & a helicopter (with thermal tracking). Why oh why did they not shoot the animals with a tranquilliser, instead of live ammo??!!! I saw the very wolves they're talking about, back in the summer when I visited the zoo...and to think that they have been gunned-down like this, makes me furious!!! If you can hit an animal with a bullet...you can hit it with a tranquilizer!! Shame on Essex Police!!! Monkey1980

1:08pm Wed 27 Nov 13

ohdeargod says...

Monkey1980 wrote:
The second Colchester Zoo called Essex police, those wolves were as good as dead!
The zoo have firearms licenses but the second the police fire team arrives, THEY take command!
It wouldn't of been the zoo's decisions to kill these animals...the decision would be made by Essex Police!!
They had ground teams & a helicopter (with thermal tracking).
Why oh why did they not shoot the animals with a tranquilliser, instead of live ammo??!!!
I saw the very wolves they're talking about, back in the summer when I visited the zoo...and to think that they have been gunned-down like this, makes me furious!!!
If you can hit an animal with a bullet...you can hit it with a tranquilizer!!
Shame on Essex Police!!!
I would be very interested to see your factual evidence to back up your claims. Oh that's right, you have none.
[quote][p][bold]Monkey1980[/bold] wrote: The second Colchester Zoo called Essex police, those wolves were as good as dead! The zoo have firearms licenses but the second the police fire team arrives, THEY take command! It wouldn't of been the zoo's decisions to kill these animals...the decision would be made by Essex Police!! They had ground teams & a helicopter (with thermal tracking). Why oh why did they not shoot the animals with a tranquilliser, instead of live ammo??!!! I saw the very wolves they're talking about, back in the summer when I visited the zoo...and to think that they have been gunned-down like this, makes me furious!!! If you can hit an animal with a bullet...you can hit it with a tranquilizer!! Shame on Essex Police!!![/p][/quote]I would be very interested to see your factual evidence to back up your claims. Oh that's right, you have none. ohdeargod

1:49pm Wed 27 Nov 13

Jess Jephcott says...

I doubt very much whether the Police firearms team carry tranquiliser darts. My question is who damaged the fence that caused this carnage?
I doubt very much whether the Police firearms team carry tranquiliser darts. My question is who damaged the fence that caused this carnage? Jess Jephcott

1:54pm Wed 27 Nov 13

wormshero says...

Monkey1980 wrote:
The second Colchester Zoo called Essex police, those wolves were as good as dead!
The zoo have firearms licenses but the second the police fire team arrives, THEY take command!
It wouldn't of been the zoo's decisions to kill these animals...the decision would be made by Essex Police!!
They had ground teams & a helicopter (with thermal tracking).
Why oh why did they not shoot the animals with a tranquilliser, instead of live ammo??!!!
I saw the very wolves they're talking about, back in the summer when I visited the zoo...and to think that they have been gunned-down like this, makes me furious!!!
If you can hit an animal with a bullet...you can hit it with a tranquilizer!!
Shame on Essex Police!!!
I'm as against killing the animals as much as the next person, and would have prefered use of a tranqualiser and/or net but as the articles have pointed out, the tranquilisers they can use take 15 minutes to take effect, and you can be sure that when any animal gets hit by a dart it's sure as hell not going to just wait until it's sedated. It's at that point it becomes a whole lot unpredictable.

Incredibly sad that they had to put them down.
[quote][p][bold]Monkey1980[/bold] wrote: The second Colchester Zoo called Essex police, those wolves were as good as dead! The zoo have firearms licenses but the second the police fire team arrives, THEY take command! It wouldn't of been the zoo's decisions to kill these animals...the decision would be made by Essex Police!! They had ground teams & a helicopter (with thermal tracking). Why oh why did they not shoot the animals with a tranquilliser, instead of live ammo??!!! I saw the very wolves they're talking about, back in the summer when I visited the zoo...and to think that they have been gunned-down like this, makes me furious!!! If you can hit an animal with a bullet...you can hit it with a tranquilizer!! Shame on Essex Police!!![/p][/quote]I'm as against killing the animals as much as the next person, and would have prefered use of a tranqualiser and/or net but as the articles have pointed out, the tranquilisers they can use take 15 minutes to take effect, and you can be sure that when any animal gets hit by a dart it's sure as hell not going to just wait until it's sedated. It's at that point it becomes a whole lot unpredictable. Incredibly sad that they had to put them down. wormshero

1:55pm Wed 27 Nov 13

wormshero says...

Yet again the Gazette have asked for public opinion about something that the general public won't know anything about. Emotive voting proves nothing and it's naive (nae, stupid) to imply that it does.
Yet again the Gazette have asked for public opinion about something that the general public won't know anything about. Emotive voting proves nothing and it's naive (nae, stupid) to imply that it does. wormshero

2:11pm Wed 27 Nov 13

Eric the Red says...

Monkey1980 wrote:
The second Colchester Zoo called Essex police, those wolves were as good as dead!
The zoo have firearms licenses but the second the police fire team arrives, THEY take command!
It wouldn't of been the zoo's decisions to kill these animals...the decision would be made by Essex Police!!
They had ground teams & a helicopter (with thermal tracking).
Why oh why did they not shoot the animals with a tranquilliser, instead of live ammo??!!!
I saw the very wolves they're talking about, back in the summer when I visited the zoo...and to think that they have been gunned-down like this, makes me furious!!!
If you can hit an animal with a bullet...you can hit it with a tranquilizer!!
Shame on Essex Police!!!
Unfortunately, you seem to know nothing about ballistics, tranquiliser darts or the killing power of 50kg of timber wolf. A dart has an accurate range of about 20 feet - about the same as a rifle at a quarter of a mile.The experts made a hard decision based upon their experience and the danger.
[quote][p][bold]Monkey1980[/bold] wrote: The second Colchester Zoo called Essex police, those wolves were as good as dead! The zoo have firearms licenses but the second the police fire team arrives, THEY take command! It wouldn't of been the zoo's decisions to kill these animals...the decision would be made by Essex Police!! They had ground teams & a helicopter (with thermal tracking). Why oh why did they not shoot the animals with a tranquilliser, instead of live ammo??!!! I saw the very wolves they're talking about, back in the summer when I visited the zoo...and to think that they have been gunned-down like this, makes me furious!!! If you can hit an animal with a bullet...you can hit it with a tranquilizer!! Shame on Essex Police!!![/p][/quote]Unfortunately, you seem to know nothing about ballistics, tranquiliser darts or the killing power of 50kg of timber wolf. A dart has an accurate range of about 20 feet - about the same as a rifle at a quarter of a mile.The experts made a hard decision based upon their experience and the danger. Eric the Red

2:25pm Wed 27 Nov 13

Boris says...

The zoo statement says the fences are checked every day, and the gap in this fence was discovered at 7.30 am. Somebody might have got in there overnight with wire cutters and made the hole. It might have been a disgruntled employee, but there are extreme anti-zoo campaigners out there, and this is the kind of thing they might do. Investigation should prove whether the damage to the fence was deliberate.
The zoo statement says the fences are checked every day, and the gap in this fence was discovered at 7.30 am. Somebody might have got in there overnight with wire cutters and made the hole. It might have been a disgruntled employee, but there are extreme anti-zoo campaigners out there, and this is the kind of thing they might do. Investigation should prove whether the damage to the fence was deliberate. Boris

2:25pm Wed 27 Nov 13

the undertaker says...

amazing how many so called wolf experts read the gazzete going by some of the comments on the other story.

first thing the zoo should say is how the hole/damage to the fence occured.
amazing how many so called wolf experts read the gazzete going by some of the comments on the other story. first thing the zoo should say is how the hole/damage to the fence occured. the undertaker

4:02pm Wed 27 Nov 13

emmaw7 says...

I find it extrememly worrying that the Zoo remined open for business whilst all this was going on and told visitors that there was a medical emergency (see BBC News report today), not that animals had got loose! Profits more important than animal or public welfare? This is the true reason why these animals were shot!
I find it extrememly worrying that the Zoo remined open for business whilst all this was going on and told visitors that there was a medical emergency (see BBC News report today), not that animals had got loose! Profits more important than animal or public welfare? This is the true reason why these animals were shot! emmaw7

4:02pm Wed 27 Nov 13

pembury53 says...

wormshero wrote:
Monkey1980 wrote: The second Colchester Zoo called Essex police, those wolves were as good as dead! The zoo have firearms licenses but the second the police fire team arrives, THEY take command! It wouldn't of been the zoo's decisions to kill these animals...the decision would be made by Essex Police!! They had ground teams & a helicopter (with thermal tracking). Why oh why did they not shoot the animals with a tranquilliser, instead of live ammo??!!! I saw the very wolves they're talking about, back in the summer when I visited the zoo...and to think that they have been gunned-down like this, makes me furious!!! If you can hit an animal with a bullet...you can hit it with a tranquilizer!! Shame on Essex Police!!!
I'm as against killing the animals as much as the next person, and would have prefered use of a tranqualiser and/or net but as the articles have pointed out, the tranquilisers they can use take 15 minutes to take effect, and you can be sure that when any animal gets hit by a dart it's sure as hell not going to just wait until it's sedated. It's at that point it becomes a whole lot unpredictable. Incredibly sad that they had to put them down.
incredibly sad that anyone can be so stupid
[quote][p][bold]wormshero[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]Monkey1980[/bold] wrote: The second Colchester Zoo called Essex police, those wolves were as good as dead! The zoo have firearms licenses but the second the police fire team arrives, THEY take command! It wouldn't of been the zoo's decisions to kill these animals...the decision would be made by Essex Police!! They had ground teams & a helicopter (with thermal tracking). Why oh why did they not shoot the animals with a tranquilliser, instead of live ammo??!!! I saw the very wolves they're talking about, back in the summer when I visited the zoo...and to think that they have been gunned-down like this, makes me furious!!! If you can hit an animal with a bullet...you can hit it with a tranquilizer!! Shame on Essex Police!!![/p][/quote]I'm as against killing the animals as much as the next person, and would have prefered use of a tranqualiser and/or net but as the articles have pointed out, the tranquilisers they can use take 15 minutes to take effect, and you can be sure that when any animal gets hit by a dart it's sure as hell not going to just wait until it's sedated. It's at that point it becomes a whole lot unpredictable. Incredibly sad that they had to put them down.[/p][/quote]incredibly sad that anyone can be so stupid pembury53

4:19pm Wed 27 Nov 13

Outdoor Gloucestershire says...

Timber wolves can easily bite through wire fences and have a much higher bite pressure per square inch than pitbulls or any other dogs. A timber wolf can run at speeds of up to 40 miles per hours and see people as food (women and children). It was the correct decision to shoot the three wolves dead as wolves are very difficult to get off a person if they bite you as they are more intelligent than dogs and also have bigger teeth than dogs and are unpredictable. A magum .44 round at 15 feet in the head will not kill a timber wolf ? scary !
Timber wolves can easily bite through wire fences and have a much higher bite pressure per square inch than pitbulls or any other dogs. A timber wolf can run at speeds of up to 40 miles per hours and see people as food (women and children). It was the correct decision to shoot the three wolves dead as wolves are very difficult to get off a person if they bite you as they are more intelligent than dogs and also have bigger teeth than dogs and are unpredictable. A magum .44 round at 15 feet in the head will not kill a timber wolf ? scary ! Outdoor Gloucestershire

4:30pm Wed 27 Nov 13

thehappyholly89 says...

Monkey1980 wrote:
The second Colchester Zoo called Essex police, those wolves were as good as dead!
The zoo have firearms licenses but the second the police fire team arrives, THEY take command!
It wouldn't of been the zoo's decisions to kill these animals...the decision would be made by Essex Police!!
They had ground teams & a helicopter (with thermal tracking).
Why oh why did they not shoot the animals with a tranquilliser, instead of live ammo??!!!
I saw the very wolves they're talking about, back in the summer when I visited the zoo...and to think that they have been gunned-down like this, makes me furious!!!
If you can hit an animal with a bullet...you can hit it with a tranquilizer!!
Shame on Essex Police!!!
Unfortunatly if you read the bbc news article about this sad situation it states the the lolice had posted a status on twitter stating that it was the zoo that shot the wolves not the police, end of the day if proper checks had been carried out then this whole situation could of been prevented. The problem we have is the fact that colchester zoo lied to visitors on the day stating that half the zoo was closed due to a medical illness with the aardvarks..... not the fact that there was wolves running around, I know most of you will say that they didnt want to cause a riot but they need to bare in mind there was visitors some elderly and some with children? If they knew they had escaped by 8.30am why open?
[quote][p][bold]Monkey1980[/bold] wrote: The second Colchester Zoo called Essex police, those wolves were as good as dead! The zoo have firearms licenses but the second the police fire team arrives, THEY take command! It wouldn't of been the zoo's decisions to kill these animals...the decision would be made by Essex Police!! They had ground teams & a helicopter (with thermal tracking). Why oh why did they not shoot the animals with a tranquilliser, instead of live ammo??!!! I saw the very wolves they're talking about, back in the summer when I visited the zoo...and to think that they have been gunned-down like this, makes me furious!!! If you can hit an animal with a bullet...you can hit it with a tranquilizer!! Shame on Essex Police!!![/p][/quote]Unfortunatly if you read the bbc news article about this sad situation it states the the lolice had posted a status on twitter stating that it was the zoo that shot the wolves not the police, end of the day if proper checks had been carried out then this whole situation could of been prevented. The problem we have is the fact that colchester zoo lied to visitors on the day stating that half the zoo was closed due to a medical illness with the aardvarks..... not the fact that there was wolves running around, I know most of you will say that they didnt want to cause a riot but they need to bare in mind there was visitors some elderly and some with children? If they knew they had escaped by 8.30am why open? thehappyholly89

6:31pm Wed 27 Nov 13

Nowthatsworthknowing says...

The moment these dangerous animals ventured into the public domain, they became targets, sad yes, but an absolute must, don't have a pop at the Police, remember what Colchester Zoo is about, to make money, it is a business, out to make profit, they pretend to show compassion towards the animals, yet obviously left these Wolves in hovel condition caged enclosures.
The moment these dangerous animals ventured into the public domain, they became targets, sad yes, but an absolute must, don't have a pop at the Police, remember what Colchester Zoo is about, to make money, it is a business, out to make profit, they pretend to show compassion towards the animals, yet obviously left these Wolves in hovel condition caged enclosures. Nowthatsworthknowing

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