French zoo closes after nine wolves escape during visiting hours

The zoo has previously faced calls to close after the French minister for the ecological transition raised concerns about the welfare of animals and staff  - AFP via Getty Images

A French zoo was temporarily closed after a pack of nine wolves escaped during visiting hours.

No people were injured in the incident that took place last weekend at the Trois Valleés zoo in Montredon-Labessonié in the south west of France.

Four of the wolves were shot dead by zoo workers and five were anaethetised on the scene.

Fabien Chollet, a local offical, said that “not many people were in the zoo at the time and at no time was the public in immediate danger.”

“Due to the abnormal and dangerous behaviour of some of them, four wolves were sadly killed by the park personnel,” he said.

He emphasised that visitors to the zoo had been immediately evacuated from the park.

The animals reportedly destroyed safety hatches and climbed a fence but never left the zoo.

The zoo, which spans more than 60 hectares and holds more than 600 animals including lions, monkeys, and flamingos, will be closed for at least three weeks until the security issues are resolved.

The zoo’s owner Sauveur Ferrara told news agency AFP that “at not time” have the wolves “been in contact or represented a threat for visitors and for park officials.”

Only last October the zoo was forced to shut down after Barbara Pompili, France’s minister of the ecological transition, cited concerns for animal welfare and staff safety at the site.

The minister posted photos of the zoo’s animals and enclosures on Twitter, saying: “Starving animals, unsanitary enclosures. I asked the Tarn prefect to immediately close the 3 valleys zoo. The animals will be transfered to suitable establishments.

“I will have no tolerance: when we welcome wild animals, we respect the rules.”

However the park was allowed to reopen and keep its animals after a court overturned the initial decision.

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