10:43 GMT30 March 2020
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    Keepers at a Midlands zoo were startled after a snow leopard had escaped its enclosure, with officials shooting it dead shortly after.

    The eight-year-old cat named Margaash escaped after a zookeeper accidentally left the door open to its enclosure at Dudley Zoo near Birmingham. There was "no other option" than shooting the snow leopard "in the interest of public safety", according to management.  

    The fatal incident took place 23 October around 17:00 after the zoo had closed for the day and visitors had left. Zoo officials have investigated the matter and introduced a "stringent review" of all safety protocols. 

    "This was an incredibly sad incident and our staff are understandably heartbroken," zoo director Derek Grove said. "Euthanasia is, and always will be, a last resort."  

    "Efforts to persuade Margaash to return to his enclosure failed and as the animal was close to surrounding woodland and dark was approaching, the vet did not believe a tranquiliser dart was a safe option due to the amount of time the drug takes to work." 

    "Safety of the public is always of paramount importance and our staff are highly experienced and rigorously trained," Mr. Grove continued. 

    The probe determined that the door had been left open due to "keeper error", resulting in a "disciplinary investigation" of staff involved in the incident.  

    The snow leopard was born at Norfolk's Banham Zoon in May 2010 and was transferred to Dudley Zoo in autumn 2011.


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    leopard, zoo, zoo, Birmingham, United Kingdom
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