Wolf Escapes Exhibit At Zoo

APPLE VALLEY, Minn. (WCCO) — A Mexican wolf was shot and killed after it got out of its enclosure at the Minnesota Zoo Wednesday morning.

Minnesota Zoo spokesperson Kelly Lessard said the wolf escaped and got out on to the Northern Trail, venturing over to the bison area. The area was evacuated, the wolf was located and then shot and killed.

No one was hurt in the incident.

Mary Woestehoff, who was visiting the zoo with her 18-month-old daughter Lucy, said she spotted the wolf on the walking path.

“Rounded the corner by the prairie dog village and there was a wolf out running on the path,” she said.

The Mexican wolf is one of three kept in the popular zoo exhibit. Smaller than Minnesota’s gray wolf, the Mexican wolf is about the size of a German shepherd.

Woestehoff said nobody panicked but there was certainly concern.

“Lucy was running ahead so I picked her up and we went to the closest emergency box and called,” she said. “We weren’t quite sure if they believed us at first. The way the responded, they said, ‘Wait, what a wolf?’ Yeah, there’s really a wolf.”

Minutes later she saw zookeepers come running with nets and a rifle. Knowing the wolf had lots of room to run and hide, zoo officials chose the safest option to shoot the wolf and kill it.

“It was a decision call we had to make because he was within the zoo site where we had visitors and we didn’t want him escaping the zoo site after that,” said Tony Fisher, Minnesota Zoo collection manager.

NewsRadio 830 WCCO’s Susie Jones Reports

The zoo property is about 450 acres and even though there is a high perimeter fence surrounding the entire place, there were at least 2,000 visitors on the grounds while that wolf was loose.

“He found a gap in the fence and kinda forced it open, made it wider and got out into a secondary enclosure area,” Fisher said.

Fisher has been caring for animals for 25 years, so the decision to kill one is not made lightly. But he said public safety is always the first priority.

The Minnesota Zoo cares for more than 500 species of animals and some are dangerous, like the wolf. The zoo conducts drills at least twice a year, just in case something like this happens.

  • tonja


    • sandy

      Tranquilize the animal NOT kill it! These zoo animals are so used to people that the danger level was actually very low. Im totally dishearted by the actions of the zoo officials…its time to rethink your emergency plan. Very poor actions, sad!!!

      • Genine

        And what would you say if in that 10 to 15 minutes it takes for the tranquilizer to take effect it attacked you or your child?? It was very unfortunate but don’t go blaming all the zoo employees who only had your safety as their first priority

        • elizabeth

          Actually, wolf attacks on humans are extremely rare. Wolves are more scared of humans than we are of them.

      • elizabeth

        I agree with sandy. Tranquelizing the animal doesn’t hurt it and it goes down quickly. The thing is: why kill it? If “No one was hurt in the incident” then why does the wolf have to be shot? It’s a disgrace, if you ask me. Next time, think before you actually shoot a wolf. They’re beautiful animals and they don’t deserve to die!

    • bob

      Oh and hey…i was just there visiting two weeks ago…and fyi until they fire the idiot that made the bad call to kill the wolf we wont be back…and i PROMISE to spread the word:) stupid is as stupid does now its time to pay the price. Fix the mistake and make it right!!!

  • http://minnesota.cbslocal.com/2011/06/08/wolf-escapes-from-minnesota-zoo/ Wolf Escapes From Minnesota Zoo « CBS Minnesota

    […] [WCCO] Share this article No comments // […]

  • Lukas

    I was thinking the same thing. Where’s the tranquilizer gun?!?!?!?

  • Jackie Du Charme

    I agree. Its not like the dnr people are that far away they couldn’t of tranquilized it instead of destroying it. Really stupid people in this world.

  • Whatever

    It’s a WOLF not a person! Tranq guns aren’t as accurate as you think and you have to be close enough to get it. If other animals AND people were threatened – SHOOT the wolf. I am sure they did what they had to do and probably feel bad about it.

    • Not "whatever"

      Yeah, I am sure “they” feel terrible. What kind of gun did you use?

  • Brad

    Put it this way: if the wolf bit a child or severely injured someone you would all say, “well why didn’t they just shoot the darn thing right away!”

    There’s always something to complain about.

    • huxley

      Yeah, your post kind of proves its own point.

      • Brad

        Exactly. I am complaining because everybody seems to complain about everything.

        It was a wild animal on the loose so the zoo took the safe and conservative route and exterminated it. Sad, but let’s get real and move on to bigger issues.

        Thank you for reading my complaint.

        • Les Johnson

          Safe and conservative? LOL

          Who did they protect exactly?

          The park had been evacuated.

          Were they saving the lives of the Bison? Not likely. A single wolf can’t do much damage to a pack of Bison.

          The could have closed the park, triangulated and cornered the animal (no not cornered like within 10 feet in a hallway) and tranq’d it or netted it, or any of the other methods they use to GET animals to the zoo.

  • Mary Gunn

    I can understand if it had already hurt another animal or attacked a human…but it hadn’t…the Tranq gun would have at least put it in LALA land and they could have gotten it into isolation til they figured out HOW it got out…I am disappointed in the zoo keepers in this decision!!!

    • Whatever

      Sooo, wait until it hurts or kills another animal or human, then kill the wolf??? wow! Smart!

      • Huxley

        Anybody know what area of the zoo this clown is posting from?

        • Whatever

          i don’t work at the zoo, however, i would be more than upset if my child or myself were severely injured first before they decided to kill the wolf. “it was a direct threat to others” or do you choose to read what you want?

          • huxley

            I absolutely choose to read what I want. Should I read what you want me to read? That approach doesn’t seem to have served you very well.

          • Les Johnson

            The area was evacuated.

            How, pray tell, would the wolf kill a child in a zoo with no patrons in it?

            I’m curious, so please be specific.

            • KMC

              You keep saying that the park had been evacuated…. You do realize there are several entrances (all outside) to the zoo with hundreds of people coming in and and you have to walk for several minutes to get indoors. Not to mention the people already on the outdoor trails that have even further to go before they could get inside. Make a new point.

              • Les Johnson

                There are several points to be made, so that’s fine.

                The staff located the wolf, evacuated the patrons to buildings and safe areas, the staff cornered the wolf and were faced with the decision to tranquilize it and wait for it to take effect, or shoot and kill it instantly.

                Now if the patrons aren’t near the wolf, why was the decision to kill it instantly made based on there not being enough time? Riddle me that, KMC.

                • Jenny P

                  I think those of you disagreeing with Les have heard Little Red Riding Hood too many times. BTW, Little Red Riding Hood is a FAIRY TALE!

                  “The staff located the wolf, evacuated the patrons to buildings and safe areas, the staff cornered the wolf and were faced with the decision to tranquilize it and wait for it to take effect, or shoot and kill it instantly.

                  Now if the patrons aren’t near the wolf, why was the decision to kill it instantly made based on there not being enough time?” What Les said makes a lot of sense to me. You others don’t know much about wolves and seem to be playing into irrational fears.

      • To the complainers of the world...

        I agree 100% with the Whatever person … all of you freaks are being overly sensitive after reading a story that doesn’t have 100% of the details.

    • Commet

      No they couldn’t have just tranq it because it takes awhile for i to kick in and it could have made the wolf even madder and then it could have potentially hurt someone, which would have not be good.

  • anon

    Such a shame. The Mexican Red Wolf is critically endangered and was brought to the zoo to breed in the hopes of bringing up the wolves numbers. I would like to see a statement as to why they chose to shoot and not tranquilize.

  • Erv Server

    It works both ways, what if the shooter missed and shot a bystander?? witnesses reported the wolf was scared and was shying away fro people. Seems to me killing it was unnecessary. Employees at this zoo need some serious training. Do you really want zoo employees running around shooting bullets???

    • Whatever

      animals to crazy things when they are scared…….doesn’t matter what kind of animal it is. Hopefully the employee was trained, i doubt they let random people shoot at anything. “the area was evacuated”

      • Clarify please

        “animals to crazy things when they are scared” Pardon me, but are you referring to the wolf or the employee that shot it?

        • Whatever

          OBVIOUSLY the wolf – I am happy they were pro-active and we aren’t all complaining that it hurt someone before they did something

          • Clarify please

            What made it obvious?

            • so annoying

              “Clarify please” it was obvious to the rest of us. Go be an activist somewhere else…

              • huxley

                Good argument. Activist? You’re angry.

              • Moe

                To ALL the people that feel the wolf should have been “protected” by being tranquilized, I have one burning question:

                -Why is it that you place human life on a lower scale/level than animal life?

                It’s a freakin’ wolf for crying out loud!!!!
                The reporter stated there were approximately 2000 people on the zoo grounds when the wolf got loose! There was far too great of a possibility that somebody may have been severely injured or even killed. The reason I say this is because last time I checked, a wolf is considered a WILD ANIMAL. Just by definition of wild – untamed and HIGHLY unpredictable. I don’t give a rat’s backside about the wolf’s history or whether it had been aggressive toward past handlers!!!!

                Come on people, you have to start placing human life above animal life. A wolf’s existence is not on par with a human’s existence – plain & simple. Shoot it right between the eyes to protect the public. Then go get the numbskull handler who didn’t notice the gap in the fencing and fire his ass on the spot!!!!

                • Mel

                  I agree with Moe. This wasn’t a family’s pet that got loose at the zoo. Not your cuddly, cute ball of fir, but a wild animal. The zoo has protocols and procedure they have to follow. They don’t freak out and panic, then shoot willy-nilly. Well done Minnesota Zoo. I will continue to bring my children knowing you will make the appropriate decisions in the event of an animal escape.

                • Les Johnson

                  “There was far too great of a possibility that somebody may have been severely injured or even killed.”

                  Based on what? Past events where wolves have killed people in zoos? What are you basing that on exactly? Your own irrational fears and assumptions?

                • Les Johnson

                  “Why is it that you place human life on a lower scale/level than animal life?”

                  Why do you insist it was a decision between letting a wolf live and letting a human live?

                  That was never the situation, so why do you feel that’s even a legitimate argument?

          • Les Johnson

            How could it have hurt anybody, let alone someone?

            The park was evacuated. You read that, right?

            • Just Helping

              I was at the zoo when this happened. The zoo was not evacuated. Staff directed everyone to the nearest building. So people were out of the way, but still inside the park.

              • Les Johnson

                Nearest building = safe from a wolf who is getting as far away from you as possible, regardless of where you hide from it. My goodness.

                It’s a wolf. Not a werewolf, people. You have NOTHING TO FEAR from it.

                • KMC

                  If you had any of your facts straight… The wolf was being held in a separate area be cause it was aggressive, it was on the main path, and the person who reported it to the zoo staff was the mother of an 18 month old child.

                • Les Johnson

                  The mother of an 18 month old child. You say that so emotionally, as if this wolf wanted to eat the 18 month old child like in Little Red Riding Hood. That wasn’t the case here, unless you have evidence otherwise. You say it was aggressive, yet all witnesses say it was getting as far away from every person it saw as it could.

                  So if you had any of YOUR facts straight… I won’t hold my breath.

      • Jenny P

        People do even crazier things when they’re scared, like shoot wolves!

    • Les Johnson

      Shoot a bystander? What?? I don’t think you thought this through very well. So the zoo staff is also unable to clear their park or communicate with the patrons of the zoo? Are you being serious?

      Also, do you think the kid in charge of shoveling the poo out of the chimpanzee enclosure just ran to the zoo gun cabinet, and pulled out a .300 Win Mag and opened fire?

      “witnesses reported the wolf was scared and was shying away fro people.”

      Ya don’t say. Imagine that. Wolves are known for avoiding people. The ones saying it would go on a human-killing spree are mongoloid ignoramuses.

      • Old Hamburger P

        Please. I agree with you, but using the words “mongoloid ignoramus” is unnecessary. It’s hurtful to those of us who have children with Down Syndrome, and to individuals with Down Syndrome themselves.

        • Les Johnson

          I apologize, but trust me when I say that nobody with Downs Syndrome wants or deserves to be associated with these ignorant fools.

          • Maya

            Les you are disrespectful to people and animals.

  • GSheep

    I know, they’re a zoo, you would think they would have the necessary tools on hand to safely recapture the wolf. After all, they have some responsability to keep the animals there safe, don’t they?

    • Endangered species shot at zoo

      Absolutely, second only to profits.

    • JC

      They had and used the necessary tools didn’t you read the story.

  • Pioneerpress censors chat

    WOW. Way to go you buffoons. Huge failure on the Zoo’s part. Tragic. From defenders.org:
    Once extirpated from the southwestern United States, 34 Mexican Wolves returned to southeastern Arizona following a reintroduction program begun in March, 1998. There are only about 200 Mexican wolves in captivity. The goal of the reintroduction program was to restore at least 100 wolves to the wild by 2008; unfortunately, at the end of 2008 there were only approximately 50.

  • louisfreehdomfries

    Hey my friend, your ignorance is showing. Please tuck that in. LOL.

  • Matthew Wakefield

    My wife and son were there – I’m glad they did what they did. I can’t believe people’s first reaction is concern for the wolf and not the safety of the zoo patrons.

    • Whatever


      • Whatever

        Not agreeing to “its relative”, but to “Mattew Wakefield”

        • Huxley

          Now you’re just clogging up the chat.

    • scott

      I loved your comment. There is still some funny people out there. Sad for the animal :(

    • Les Johnson

      Oh yeah, real danger from a loose wolf who’s scared of humans and trying to get as far away from the stinky humans as possible, including your wife and kid.

      See many wolves mauling humans? I didn’t think so. Your wife and son were in far more danger from the humans with firearms than they were from a wolf who wanted nothing to do with your family.

    • Al Anon

      Resorting to personal attacks and name calling? Very nice.

    • Navin J

      A Jerk? 1. The lord loves a working man 2. Don’t trust whitey, and 3. See a doctor and get rid of it.

      • MNMommyJosie

        Thank you! Best movie ever! I just spit wine all over my computer screen!

    • Moe

      THANK YOU MATTHEW!!!!!!!


      On another note:

      “It’s close to mid-night, something evil’s lurking in the dark. Under the moon-light, you see a sight that almost stops your heart. You try to scre – am, but terror takes the sound before you make it. You start to fre-eze, as horror looks you right between the eyes. You’re para-lyzed!!!!”

      Sorry, but I miss old MJ!!!!!

  • kevin

    Nice shot

    • Huxley

      Kev you got a little bit of chew spit dribbling out of the corner of your mouth.

      • Realist04

        Huxley, go cut your hair you Hippie! yeah, I posted this to show how arrogant your comment is.

        • Huxley

          My hair is short, thank you but I did do a lot of psychedelics in college. Ever read the Doors of Perception? It may be a little beyond your abilities but you should at least check it out. Good, rational, civil argument you’ve made. By calling me a hippy you are showing my arrogance? Too funny.

          • Les Johnson

            I used to have a friend with an Iguana named Huxley after his favorite author, Aldous Huxley. It’s a Brave New World, isn’t it…

  • Jim

    Maybe they should auction off the privilege to shoot animals in the zoo. I for one would like a Mexican wolf in my living room. On the other hand I don’t know why they shot it, the Mexican wolf is an animal of peace.

  • Michele

    Very sad indeed, considering the legal ramifications to the zoo had the wolf attacked anyone (I’m sure the wolf was probably just as afraid) we probably wouldn’t have a Zoo anymore. I hope the Zoo learns from this and does a internal investigation and brings in some experts to look at all of their enclosures to make sure they are secure.

  • El loco lobos mi amigo

    Another sad tale of a Mexican being exploited by wealthy Americanos. Poor baby was just going to get himself some bison for lunch. Shame, shame, shame.

  • Dee McDonald
  • Big Bill

    The area was evacuated of zoo patrons right? They don’t have an emergency procedure to possibly “round up” this animal into a horse trailer or anything of that sort? It was scared, not hungry it feeds everyday. In the wild they may only feed once a week. Corner it, net it, tranq it, put it back in the pen, fire the careless employee that left the door unlatched, and call it a day. Nobody hurt, nobody or none of the animals killed. “Welcome to the Rock.” Anything trying to escape will be shot on sight.

    • Les Johnson

      Spot on comments, Big Bill. I concur.

    • Look at all the stupidity!!!

      Big Bill
      Again, the people that work with these animals every day have a relationship with the animals and if they could have safely got the wolf back into a cage you think they wouldn’t? I am guaranteeing you that some of the staff went home crying because this happened and they lost a friend at work. You think that people become staff at the zoo in hopes that some day they can go on a hunting safari in MN? What idiots you are. I bet they all go home from work and beat their dogs too. You may want to look into that.
      I bet the people that work at the zoo said to themselves, I want a job that pays crap and has long hours, makes me smell like crap all the time, and I would like to work with something that I just want to kill. I got it, I’ll work at the zoo. Delusional and just plain pathetic that people would always think that everyone is black hearted in this world except for themselves. You call me “Almighty intelligent one” and again I ask, so you know more than the experts in this matter huh?

    • Look at all the stupidity!!!

      Big Bill
      You are so right. People work at the zoo because of the extremely high pay and the thought that 1 day they may get to go on a Safari and kill all the animals. That makes perfect sense to me and now I am going to apply. Thank you for knowing more than all the people who were actually there and knew what was going on. The guy that is calling me “Almighty intelligent one” is the one that knows more about this than the experts yet was not there and has nothing to go on except 500 word story (did not count the words, just a estimate).

      • Les Johnson


        Big Bill never said that. You sir, are an idiot.

        • Look at all the stupidity!!!

          Les Johnson
          Way to make it apparent that you have no concept of sarcasm. Might want to look into it as this is what is more than clear that is what I was using. Maybe you would like to get a little bit more educated before you start calling others an idiot. I cannot even begin to understand how you took what I said as if I was quoting him. I guess I have to start questioning my own comment, maybe stupidity is contagious as it seems you have caught the bug. Just as a pointer, if someone is going to quote another person there is usually the use of “”.

          • Big Bill

            Look at all the stupidity!!! has short man syndrom of the brain.

          • Les Johnson

            I caught your sarcasm, chief. But your obviously overblown version of it should have been at least loosely based on what the person actually said, whereas your sarcastic post did not contain that, thus my comment. I hardly think it’s worth calling me “stupid” and “uneducated” and “an idiot” over.

  • Big Bill

    They didn’t shoot it to get it into the zoo did they? There must be a procedure that brings the animals safely to the zoo right? Almighty intelligent one.

    • Look at all the stupidity!!!

      Big Bill
      No they didn’t shoot it to get it into the zoo as the vast majority of the animals at any zoo in the USA were born in a zoo or at a private breeders. This is a fact and if you did not know that then maybe you should not be spouting off as much as you are. Stupidity is not contagious but it does seem to spread like wild fire. It is better to be thought of as a fool than to open your mouth and remove all doubt. Think about it for a few moments, that is if you can stop crying for a little while.

      • Les Johnson

        “vast majority of the animals at any zoo in the USA were born in a zoo or at a private breeders.”



        Seriously, who whispers such BS into your ear and convinces you to look so foolish online? Whoever it is is laughing their AppleSS off at you right now, bud.

        • Look at all the stupidity!!!

          Les Johnson
          I would debate this with you but I am sick and tired of holding people’s hands and walking them through how to find information on the internet. If you cannot do a search on this and find how many private breeders and how many zoos have breeding programs and then ship the animals to each other than you are lost. Can’t argue with stupid and that is what I was attempting. Well I learned my lesson, do not bring a logical idea in the mix with die hard PETA people. Facts and realities are lost on people that make up their own.

          • Les Johnson

            And yet, no evidence that any of the garbage you stated is true. How shocking… I’m sure this wolf was bred in a trailer park in Savage. You mindless ape.

  • Pete

    Tonja, if you were at the Zoo and some how the wolf took a chunk out of you, wouldn’t you be asking, why didn’t they shoot it?

    • Les Johnson

      Because wolves are known to maul humans, Pete? Is that what you’re claiming?

    • Patrick

      If I went to the zoo and a wolf got out and bit me the last thing I would ask is why didn’t someone shoot it. I would accept the fact that I chose to go to a place where humans attempt to cage wild animals for display. Zoos are a joke. Nobody should ever patronize a place like that. I hope a whole host of people lose their jobs over this.

  • Al

    “Rednecks in MInnesota with guns”? Seriously lady? It is a zoo, of course they have guns on premises. I don’t agree with the fact that someone shot it, it seems a tranquilizer would’ve done the trick BUT I’m not going to be belligerent and so quick to judge the situation like you either. Along with the fact that we don’t know how it escaped, we (the people reading the story) also don’t know any background … like was this wolf aggressive and troublesome in the past, etc. Wait until you get all the facts before you become all confrontational about it.

  • Kent

    Whenever an animal is out of it’s natural setting, the protocol is to shoot it first, then try to come up with the most condescending answer to why it was shot.
    Check the records. They absolutely take the animals well being second to the chance to bag it with rifle. Its just how things are done.
    Too bad.

  • realist04

    nicely said

  • Melinda

    I AGREE. How horrible that this beautiful creature was destroyed!

    • Jake

      How do we know it was actually a wolf and not just Michael J. Fox in his “wolflike” state? After the full moon is over, if the carcass turns back into the body of a teenage boy, somebody is gonna have some explaining to do.

      • Les Johnson

        Ok that was funny.

        • Moe

          I’m with you Les on that one!!!
          Freakin’ Hilarious!!!!
          Great job JAKE!!!!!

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