Cotswold Wildlife Park has investigated how Ember, who gave birth to five cubs this year, managed to escape
A wolf shot dead after escaping from Cotswold Wildlife Park may have climbed over a faulty electric fence.
Three-year-old Eurasian wolf Ember, who gave birth to five cubs this year, was killed by a keeper after being discovered outside her enclosure at the zoo on Friday.
An investigation by the park discovered the electric fence surrounding the pen was not properly charged.
Managing director Reggie Heyworth said it was possible Ember climbed over the fence.
Visitors to the park were told to stay indoors after it emerged that the female, who gave birth to five cubs earlier this year, had managed to escape at 11am on Friday.
A statement from the park said “there was no breach of the wolf enclosure perimeter fence, and no access had been left unlocked or open”.
It added that the electric fencing was defective, despite being tested every day by keepers.
“During the routine test on Friday, July 21, the reading revealed no abnormalities and was consistent with other readings dating back to the enclosure’s construction in 2006,” the statement said.
“But a second fence reader showed a much lower reading.
“Further tests on-site proved that the fence energiser had developed a fault, and this is now being investigated by the manufacturers.
“The original fence reader also proved faulty for giving the initial and incorrect high reading.”
It is also described the incident as an “isolated case”.
The five cubs born this year were the first in first born in the history of the park.
Ember and two-year-old male wolf Ash arrived at Cotswold Wildlife Park from Sweden in October 2016 as part of a breeding programme.
Keepers at the zoo are optimistic about Ash, the male wolf’s, behaviour as a single parent to his ten-week-old cubs.
The cubs, a mix of both male and female, are now eating naturally as they would in the wild with the support of their father.
Campaign group Captive Animals Protection Society have written to the Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) urging a review into the regulations around zoo licensing.
Nicola O’Brien, campaigns manager, said Ember’s death was one of a worrying trend in the past couple of years at zoos and wildlife parks.
She said: “We are curious as to why they felt shooting the animal dead was appropriate as there is usually an interim step.
“We feel this highlights one of the problems with keeping animals captive, particularly large animals like wolves which are free-roaming and potentially a risk to the public.
“We do not think this animal should have been in there in the first place, and how did she escape?
“There seem to be quite a few incidents of animals escaping in the past couple of years.
“Either the regulations are not good enough, or they are not being properly adhered to by zoos.
“Accidents can happen but they shouldn’t be happening in the frequency that they have been.”
Defra has not yet responded to the letter, but Ms O’Brien said the death of zookeeper Rosa King who was mauled to death by a tiger, as well as three teenage gorillas which escaped last month, prompted concerns about safety.
Five years ago the group sent a research document to Defra, highlighting concerns over the inspection and enforcement of zoos.
But despite plans to distribute the pamphlet to local authorities who manage the licensing, activists are not optimistic anything has changed.