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STrib comments section makes me want to stab someone!

That being said, at least I understand why the comments appear to be from people who didn't even read the article. It is because they probably read a different story!


Wolf escapes from Minn. Zoo exhibit, is fatally shot

The article I read at around noon consisted of just this:

A wolf at the Minnesota Zoo escaped briefly from its exhibit Wednesday morning before being shot and killed by zoo staff.
The animal never left the zoo’s grounds in Apple Valley, and no people were harmed, said zoo spokeswoman Kelly Lessard. The zoo has yet to say how the wolf got loose.

The 8-year-old male had to be killed, Lessard said, “because of [its] proximity to people.”
Mary Woestehoff, of Richfield, said she saw the wolf “running around the path” at about 10:30 a.m., prompting her to scoop up her 18-month-old daughter.

Woestehoff went to a zoo emergency telephone and reported the loose animal.

“The guy on the other end thought we were kidding,” she said. “He didn’t believe us.”

Skepticism aside, zoo personnel with nets and rifles soon appeared, Woestehoff said. Patrons were being directed to enter the nearest building, she said.

Woestehoff said the wolf “looked scared, looked like it didn’t know where to go. ... It just wanted to get away from everyone.”



The article that link goes to now says all this:

Tranquilizers would not have acted soon enough, Minnesota Zoo officials said, forcing them to destroy the 8-year-old male.

A wolf wiggled out of its enclosure and jumped a fence at the Minnesota Zoo on Wednesday morning, and Mary Woestehoff and her 18-month-old daughter got a little closer to a predator than they had planned.

Woestehoff, of Richfield, spotted the escaped wolf, quickly scooped up her daughter and placed an emergency call. Within minutes, a zoo emergency response team had shot the animal dead.

"There's a lot of little kids here, and it could have turned out really badly," said Michelle McGuire, 19, of Apple Valley, who brought her 5-year-old half-sister to the zoo later in the morning.

The wolf never left the zoo's grounds in Apple Valley and no one was harmed, said Tony Fisher, the zoo's animal collections manager.

The endangered Mexican gray wolf squeezed through a gap between two chain-link panels in its off-exhibit enclosure, then made it over an 8-foot fence into the Northern Trail area of the zoo. Experts said it did not appear that the zoo fell short of safety standards, but the zoo will inspect other holding areas to check for potential openings.

The gap in the wolf enclosure may have been caused by snowfall last winter, Fisher said.

"We're going to be checking a lot of our holding areas that are subjected to snowfall, for sure, and make sure we don't have any more loose connections," Fisher said.

Zoo employees check enclosure fences daily, among other safety measures, Fisher said. Some fences have alarms designed to sound if trees fall on them. But nobody noticed a problem with the wolf's enclosure before the escape. The loose chain-link panel might have been difficult to spot until the animal pushed on it, officials said.

It was the first animal classified by the zoo as potentially dangerous to escape in Fisher's 25 years working there, he said.

Visitors in the area of the escape were evacuated and other guests were rushed into nearby buildings while zoo employees found the wolf and shot it.

Zoo officials did not want to give the wolf a chance to flee to major public areas of the zoo or leave the grounds entirely, Fisher said. "The wolf was just trying to get away," Fisher said, "but wolves, if cornered, can be aggressive."

The wolf, an 8-year-old male that was born at the zoo, is one of an endangered subspecies with only a few dozen living in the wild. There were three Mexican gray wolves at the zoo, but this one was not on exhibit because it didn't get along with the other two, Fisher said.

Instead, the wolf had been put in a separate enclosure with a chain-link roof and walls about a week and a half ago.

To shoot or not?

While Fisher was watching the wolves from the exhibit's public viewing area about 10 a.m., he noticed that the sequestered wolf was outside its enclosure, in a brushy area surrounded by a fence. He called other zoo personnel, who initially planned to tranquilize it.

But before they could act, the wolf jumped over the fence and made its way to the Northern Trail, stunning patrons, including Woestehoff.

She said the wolf "looked scared, looked like it didn't know where to go. ... It just wanted to get away from everyone."

The zoo's decision to shoot the wolf drew criticism from some visitors. After assuming responsibility for the care of wild animals, "They should be better prepared for that," said Miadad Rashid of Minneapolis, who visited the zoo with his girlfriend and her 3-year-old daughter.

Others deferred to the judgment of zoo staff. "They're very qualified and trained to determine whether it needs to be tranquilized or not," said Kim McCray, who drove to the zoo from Wisconsin with her three daughters. "It's sad that a wolf had to be shot, but obviously you can't endanger kids and families."

One problem, Fisher said, is that tranquilizer guns don't have the range of a traditional firearm. Plus, "We didn't have the time for a tranquilizer to take effect," he said, estimating that it would take eight to 10 minutes.

"Nobody wants to kill their animals, but it's our responsibility to keep the public safe and to keep the animals on-site," he said.

The zoo is accredited with the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, which requires safety procedures, drills and other measures to keep the public safe, said association spokesman Steve Feldman. "As unfortunate as it was that they had to put those into practice, it worked," he said.

Fisher said zoo officials didn't think the wolf could clear the fence.

"We thought we had him secure," he said. "Sometimes animals will surprise you with what they can do."

Lori Schmidt, a curator at the International Wolf Center in Ely, agreed. "Wolves are amazing. If they can find a small opening, they don't need much."

The Ely center has a 10-foot fence with a 45-degree overhang at the top, plus buried ground wire to prevent wolves from digging their way out, she said. A secondary 8-foot-high fence beyond that has barbed wire at the top, primarily to keep humans out.

Given a description of the Minnesota Zoo's enclosure, she said, "It sounds like they're well within the range of what's typical."


Those are two completely different articles! It's great that the STrib keeps you updated on the story as they get more info, but it would be nice if they also put a timeline of updates. They give you the time of the most current update but there is no indication of what has changed or what is new info.

Comments

( 1 comment — Leave a comment )
scubagrrl
Jun. 9th, 2011 04:34 pm (UTC)
Agreed- never read the comments sections. They always piss me off.

An article about a motorcycle rider that died in a crash- comments section tried to blame him as being a road-rager. Article about a dirtbag who was arrested for theft and murder and a bunch of other things that he probably did; his wife was my coworker and the comments section goes after her, accusing her of being a dirtbag, too, though she was completely uninvolved and dumped him once she figured out that he probably did it. Comments about their immigration status (because in their minds, everybody of Mexican descent is illegal).

It's awful. Just awful. And yet I never learn to skip them. And it happens even on sites that should attract a more thoughtful audience.
( 1 comment — Leave a comment )

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