Margaash, the 8-year-old snow leopard, lived in an enclosure at the Dudley Zoo, England. Probably because of the sad and monotonous life he had to live there, Margaash tried to escape his enclosure and the zookeepers tried their best to lure him back in. However, the leopard refused to it. So, one of the zookeepers shot him dead.
The news was only recently announced by the zoo, after about a month of the incident, which led he animal advocates to question why a measure so extreme was taken, even though the zoo had already shut down for the day and there were no visitors.
The zoo management explained in a public statement that a zookeeper had left the animal’s enclosure open.
The zoo veterinarian suggested the staff not to use a tranquillizer dart on Margaash. So, a member from the zoo’s “forearm team” fired a bullet in place of it which led to his death.
“The animal was close to surrounding woodland and dark was approaching, [so] the vet did not believe a tranquiliser dart was a safe option due to the amount of time the drug takes to work,” the statement said. “Safety of the public is always of paramount importance.”
However, the campaign director for Zoocheck, Julie Woodyer thinks differently.
“When animals are bored in their environments, they look for opportunities to escape,” Woodyer said. “In this case, I would suggest that the public was likely not at much risk since snow leopards are generally shy animals. If the animal was not actually threatening anyone … the zoo did have the time to tranquillize him.”
Sadly, shooting animals is a common practice at zoos, and, just like this case, most of them are because of human error.
“These occurrences are more common than they should be,” Woodyer added. “Zoos claim to provide safe and enriching environments for animals, and they claim to be providing educational and conservation value. This incident highlights that they are failing miserably on all fronts.”
Today, only 5,000 snow leopards exist in the wild because of constant threats of poaching and habitat loss. According to Woodyer, many zoos claim to be helping these animals in the wild. But in reality, they spend most of their money on displaying them in captivity.
“This then not only fails to provide any legitimate conservation value for their counterparts remaining in the wild, but it also results in a false education about the natural behaviour of these animals,” Woodyer said. “Most zoo visitors will only see the animals pacing in meaningless patterns or laying around with nothing to do.”
Nevertheless, Dudley Zoo has announced to investigate on the situation. But the poor snow leopard is far gone now.
A number of animal advocates are expressing their disappointments concerning the incident online, hoping that such an incident wouldn’t be repeated.
“A snow leopard who’s meant to roam the mountain ranges of Central & Southern Asia was stuck in a cage at a zoo,” one mourner wrote on Twitter. “My heart aches. Rest in peace, Margaash.”
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