Two female brown bears have been shot and killed at Whipsnade Zoo in Bedfordshire after they escaped from their enclosure when strong winds toppled a tree.
The zoo’s chief curator, Malcolm Fitzpatrick, said in a statement that the tree fell in such a way that it formed a “bridge” between the brown bears’ pen and the fence of the neighbouring wild boar enclosure.
If I had my way, he'd be the ex-chief curator.
This was a totally foreseeable accident; no trees capable of forming such a bridge should they fall should ever be near the inside or outside of an enclosure, and when high winds are forecast (as they were on this day), enclosures should automatically be checked for security.
The two bears crossed into the enclosure, where they attacked a male boar. Fitzpatrick said the zookeepers had no choice but to euthanise the bears over concerns of an “immediate threat to human life”.
“As brown bears are strong and dangerous predators, our first priority is safety – we must quickly make decisions informed by our experience and expertise to protect our people, guests and our other animals,” he said.“No one wants to be the one to make that call, but when there’s an immediate threat to human life, the decision is made for you. ”There's more than animal lovers who are going to be very, very unhappy about this, though. There's the enthusiasts for 'rewilding', who clearly want to see these 'threats to life' introduced:
“We’ve managed to put a man on the moon, I don’t see why we can’t get wolves back in Scotland,” says Lister. Bears would also learn to specialise in killing deer, he believes, and would be an even more dramatic pull for visitors than wolves.
Maybe not, Mr Lister, maybe not...