A zoo lion in Eastern Ontario was shot to death over the weekend after “human error” somehow allowed it to wander outside its enclosure, officials said.
The adult male African white lion named Zeus got outside the fence at the Papanack Park Zoo just east of Ottawa, in Wendover, Ont. late Sunday afternoon.
“It is with great regret that I have to announce that today at approximately 5:19 pm our male lion breached it’s primary perimeter fence,” the facility’s co-owner Kerri Bayford wrote on Facebook Sunday night. “Police were called immediately and within minutes our staff, with police present, made the decision to euthanize the lion on our property. The risk to the public of trying to sedate the lion was simply too high as the sedative takes too long too kick in and this would have put everyone at risk.”
Bayford’s husband, Doug, shot the African white lion, which had only arrived at the facility about a month ago, according to the Ottawa Citizen. The couple took over the zoo two years ago and said they have been working to improve standards and care for its animals.
The zoo is closed to the public in the winter, so no visitors were on the grounds when Zeus got loose.
“Unfortunately it looks like this was a case of human error and we are going to be debriefing with all our staff to determine exactly what happened,” said Bayford.
The zoo will be doing a “full audit” of its large carnivore exhibits and has already reached out to experts about protocols and exhibit designs to prevent similar incidents.
“Once de-briefing with all our staff we will be making a full statement as to what happened to lead to this tragic event today. Our staff couldn’t be more upset about this,” Bayford wrote.
Some animal rights activists plan to protest at the zoo’s main entrance on March 6. There has been a Facebook group, made up of “former staff and concerned citizens,” that has been lobbying for some time to close the facility altogether.
“The larger issue in all of this is the lack of regulation in the province of Ontario,” Close Papanack Zoo posted Monday on Facebook and Twitter. “Owning exotic animals and opening a zoo require no license, no training, no education, no expertise. Without any form of regulation, there are no standards to enforce and each zoo is free to do what they choose. “All zoos should have a perimeter fence capable of containing any animal that may escape it’s enclosure. Papanack does not. They can blame this incident on human error, but ultimately it’s their responsibility to ensure the safety, not only of the public, but of the animals in their care. They failed.”
Others also took to social media to express their concern.
This didn’t need to happen. After escaping due to human error, lion wanders out of zoo enclosure & is shot to death. https://t.co/mgxoRgNI3i
— PETA (@peta) March 1, 2016
This is why I hate zoos …There aren’t regs & animals suffer. Lion fatally shot after escaping Ottawa-area zoo https://t.co/GYQ9B5BG5W
— Jennifer Weatherhead (@jennweatherhead) February 29, 2016
Photo Papanack Zoo/Facebook