A snow leopard has been shot after escaping from its zoo enclosure.
The eight-year-old animal was euthanised at 5pm on October 23 after Dudley Zoo in the West Midlands had “no other option in the interest of public safety”.
The zoo said the snow leopard called Margaash was shot once by a senior member of the firearms team and did not suffer.
Margaash, who lived with a three-year-old female snow leopard called Taiga, managed to escape after a “keeper error” meant the enclosure door was left open.
The zoo said the incident led to disciplinary action for those involved.
The death of the snow leopard, who was born in Banham Zoo in Norfolk and transferred to Dudley Zoo in September 2011, prompted Dudley Zoo to carry out a review of all enclosure security.
Visitors to the site on the day Margaash was euthanised were forced to leave and those who had adopted the animal were informed of his death shortly after the incident.
Director of the zoo Derek Grove said: “This was an incredibly sad incident and our staff are understandably heartbroken.
“Euthanasia is, and always will be, a last resort. Efforts to persuade Margaash to return to his enclosure failed and as the animal was close to surrounding woodland and dark was approaching, the vet did not believe a tranquilliser dart was a safe option due to the amount of time the drug takes to work.
“Safety of the public is always of paramount importance and our staff are highly experienced and rigorously trained.”