Minn. zoo defends shooting runaway wolf

June 10, 2011 at 3:29 PM

MINNEAPOLIS, June 10 (UPI) -- The Minnesota Zoo is defending its shooting of an escaped wolf, but some call the killing unnecessary.

The 8-year-old wolf apparently squeezed out of its pen and jumped a fence into a visitors area Wednesday. The zoo, located in the Minneapolis suburb of Apple Valley, said tranquilizers would have taken too long and the wolf was disoriented, making its behavior unpredictable.

"We had thousands of people on-site and the potential for danger," zoo Director Lee Ehmke told the Minneapolis Star Tribune. "This is a traumatic event for all of the staff. But things worked out the way they were supposed to. It actually ended as planned."

But David Mech of the International Wolf Center in Ely, Minn., said, "That animal wouldn't have been dangerous, period."

"They were protecting themselves from the perception and the insurance and so many other things," Mech said. "It would have looked pretty bad if the wolf got out of the zoo and caused a big fuss around town."

"We thought we had him secure," said Tony Fisher, the zoo's animal collections manager. "Sometimes animals will surprise you with what they can do."

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