Animal rights group PETA have slammed the killing a wolf that escaped from its "life sentence" in Colchester zoo.
A statement for the campaign group read: "When animals who have been denied basic necessities see an opportunity to escape their dreary lives, they often take it. We urge everyone who genuinely cares about tigers, pandas and all the other individual animals who are serving life sentences in zoos to recognise these institutions for what they are – prisons with living "exhibits". Let's refuse to patronise them and instead donate to campaigns that actually protect animals in their native habitats."
The wolf, which had escaped from the Essex zoo, was shot following a massive search. The animal was reported missing from Colchester Zoo in Essex at about 8am. The Zoo confirmed that following a search working alongside Essex Police, the animal had been killed shortly after 4pm.
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Keepers discovered that five wolves had left their enclosure through a damaged fence during a morning inspection. All but one were accounted for, although two had to be shot dead.
A zoo spokesman added: "Colchester Zoo's keepers have been devastated by the loss of two of their beloved timber wolves.
"It was discovered that the perimeter fence to Colchester Zoo's wolf enclosure had been damaged and five of the six timber wolves had left the enclosure.
"One of the wolves returned immediately of its own accord and one was darted and recaptured. Unfortunately, as they were further away and an anaesthetic dart takes 15 minutes to take effect, two had to be shot. They are wild animals and in an unpredictable situation they would have posed a risk to the public. The remaining wolf has now been located and very sadly also had to be destroyed."
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