Swedish zoo under fire for shooting chimps after they escaped enclosure

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Furuvik Zoo in Sweden is facing backlash for fatally shooting four of seven chimpanzees that escaped their enclosure Wednesday.

Marksmen and several police officers were called to help contain the situation, with the zoo defending why it didn’t use sedatives.

“Sleeping is not an option when a chimpanzee goes outside his enclosure, risking human safety. To shoot with sedation arrows you need to be very close to the animal,” the zoo stated on its Facebook page.

“This, combined with the fact that it can take up to 10 minutes before the anesthesia appears, would pose great danger to human safety. When a chimpanzee is loose in the park, you unfortunately need to shoot to euthanize it.”

The zoo announced Saturday that three of its roaming chimps — Maria-Magdalena, Tjobbe and Selma — had returned to their enclosure. A fourth, Manda, died from her injuries, the zoo revealed in its statement.

Chimpanzees in the Bioparc, Valencia, Spain.
“Chimpanzees can be thought to be peaceful, but they are extremely dangerous,” the zoo said in its statement.
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The zoo said it is focused on tending to the remaining animals, especially Selma, who is wounded.

“What has happened is a great tragedy and a huge failure of us,” the zoo said in Saturday’s update. “We all feel a huge sadness about what has happened and mourn our beloved chimps Linda, Torsten, Santino, and Manda.”

The statement continued: “Now we will continue to do everything we can to take care of our animals in the park. We will thoroughly investigate this tragic event. We are very keen to get to the bottom of how this could have happened, and the investigation may show where we have broken or if we could have acted differently.”

Police are also reportedly investigating the incident as a violation of the Swedish Animal Welfare Act.

“I get so pissed off. It is so unprofessional and incredibly incompetently done,” Ing-Marie Persson, who is said to have led primate management at the zoo for three decades, told news media Afton Bladet of the zoo’s response to the incident.

The zoo had already closed to visitors for the season, but zoo officials said the escaped animals still posed a threat. Staff were evacuated or ordered to stay indoors.

A photo taken on Dec. 15 shows a cordon near the main entrance of the Furuvik Zoo
A photo taken Dec. 15 shows a barrier near the main entrance of Furuvik Zoo.
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Cognitive zoologists from the University of Lund, who spent years researching the chimps, revealed they have suspended their cooperation with the zoo because of the shootings.

“I knew them personally, I would say. I’ve hugged Manda, I’ve kissed Linda, and I’ve had tugs-of-war with Santino,” researcher Mathias Osvath told the BBC, adding that the chimpanzees had reportedly broken out of their enclosure many years ago when visitors were there.

Reported to be a favorite of Sweden’s Crown Princess Victoria, Santino was known for his art skills and stone-throwing attacks on zoo visitors dating back decades.

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