What does a zoo do when animals escape?
Two chimpanzees from Amersfoort Zoo have not survived their outbreak attempt. They escaped from their enclosure on Tuesday morning and were shot and killed. How is such a decision made? In 2018 Quest spoke with safety expert Sandra Brandts of Burgers Zoo in Arnhem.
The two male chimpanzees showed impressive behaviour, which could have caused a dangerous situation and that is why the decision was made at that time to shoot the chimpanzees dead’, Dierenpark Amersfoort reported. Why were they not stunned?
Danger is assessed after escape
The chance of an animal escaping is very small, assures safety expert Sandra Brandts, but it can happen. In the event of an escape, all alarm bells go off. First the danger is assessed, from low risk to dangerous. It makes quite a difference whether a tiger has broken out or a penguin is lost.
In the event of serious risk, the firing squad is informed immediately, explains Brandts. At Burgers Zoo, twelve carers and the director are trained to handle a gun. They rush to a safe to get a gun and go to the scene of the disaster in a jeep. There they have to assess whether immediate intervention is necessary. Caregivers know the behaviour of the animals. They immediately see how great the danger is. If the situation is too dangerous, they shoot’.
It is harder to stun an animal than to shoot it.
Some animals become restless outside their enclosure because they do not know the situation there. Other animals want to stay with the group and are unlikely to run away. If the latter is the case, it may be possible to lure back an escaped animal with food. By the way, the chance that an escaped tiger puts its teeth into a visitor or meerkat is not so great, says Brandts. Our animals are fed normally. They’re not starving, so we don’t believe they will hunt any time soon’.
A zoo doesn’t want to kill its own animals, of course. But dealing with a stun gun is complicated. You use different sleep-inducing drugs for different species, and the dose varies from one animal to another. That’s why only the vet has a stun gun. The rest of the auxiliaries have real weapons and shoot with live ammunition. And sometimes sharp shooting can be unavoidable, says Brandts. The moment you anaesthetise an animal, it is not immediately stretched out. And that is necessary in the case of an aggressive animal.