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Wolf escapes from Combe Martin Wildlife Park

By This is NorthDevon  |  Posted: January 16, 2009

One of the wolves at Combe Martin Wildlife Park.

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A WOLF escaped from Combe Martin Wildlife Park on Monday after gnawing her way out of her enclosure — but park officials insist neither the wolf or public were put in any danger at any point.

It is thought the female wolf, who lived in an enclosure with two other wolves became frightened, and bit her way through the thick wire enclosure in a fit of terror.

She was spotted by a member of the public by the roadside outside the park, who then raised the alarm.

But Combe Martin Wildlife Park spokesman Kat Whitehouse-Tedd said: "During the incident, park authorities said at no time had the wolf posed any sort of threat to humans or other animals and had not been in any danger herself."

Mrs Whitehouse-Tedd said: "We think she'd been digging, trying to get out, but she obviously couldn't because the wire goes right under the enclosure, so she chewed her way through.

"We think something must have spooked her but we don't know what."

The two other wolves who lived in the same enclosure made no attempt to escape, and Mrs Whitehouse-Tedd said the female wolf was pacing the outside of the enclosure when staff found her searching for her way back in.

Mrs Whitehouse-Tedd added: "She's obviously had quite a fright, we don't know what it is, but we've moved her to another enclosure now, and we're currently looking to re-home her elsewhere."

Mrs Whitehouse-Tedd said all the enclosures were checked last thing on Sunday evening, and nothing was wrong with the wolves, so the incident must have happened overnight on Sunday, to Monday morning.

The Wildlife Park became aware the wolf was missing when a member of the public drove past and spotted the wolf by the road.

Mrs Whitehouse-Tedd said: "We estimate she would have been outside the zoo perimeter for around half an hour. As soon as we got the alert we deployed a firearms team, a vet, and Shaun Ellis who owns the wolves.

"But as soon as we were sure it was safe and there was no need to shoot her, we called for the vet to use the anaesthetic dart gun.

"We don't chase the animals — it freaks them out — we have an emergency procedure in place for a code red escape, and we needed lots of personnel in place to surround and watch the animal.

"I was very proud of my team and the way they dealt with this."

Once the vet arrived a dart gun was used to anaesthetise her and she was recaptured without injury.

North Devon Council was informed, as is normal when any captive animal leaves its containment.

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    Amy-jade, bury st Edmunds  |  March 12 2009, 12:53PM

    hi i am amy-jade and i am 12 years old. i am going to that park for my 13th birthday to be a keeper of those wolves for a day. i am obsessed with wolves and i think that i should be able to be a zoo keeper for wolves when i grow up because i know alot about them!

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    nikki vallis, plymouth  |  February 15 2009, 8:30PM

    not bein funny i am sure every one there knew how to handle it. it is a really lovely park i think it is better than paignton zoo it is really amazin i cant say a bad word about it.

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    Jane, Barnstaple  |  January 20 2009, 4:12PM

    Sorry, it should have been "no animal can "happily" chew through metal".

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    Jane, Barnstaple  |  January 20 2009, 4:10PM

    Paul, no any animal can "happily" chew through metal. This is a rare and unfortunate event that was controlled well by the park and their staff. Atleast the outcome is positive in every way.

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    Paul, Ilfracombe  |  January 17 2009, 6:44PM

    Whilst I make no claim to know anything about animal husbandry, is it normal to enclose an animal with a material that they can happily chew through? Could I suggest an upgrade?!

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    carlos, barnstaple  |  January 16 2009, 5:24PM

    how can they say that she was in no danger herself if she was spotted by the side of the road, do they teach them the green cross code!