Anger as zebra shot dead in Germany after circus escape

Animal rescue services criticised for killing animal that ran on to motorway

Animal rescue services in Germany have been criticised for shooting dead a zebra after it escaped from a circus and ran on to a motorway.

The runaway beast was one of two zebras that escaped from their cages when the travelling Circus Barlay pitched up at a new location in Tessin in north-east Germany in the early hours of Wednesday.

While the first zebra was captured and returned to the zoo, the second animal, known as Pumba, ran on to a stretch of the A20 motorway near Rostock, causing an accident between two cars as they swerved to avoid it.

While neither of the drivers were injured, one police officer was left with slight injuries after attempting to catch the animal by hand. One car was damaged when Pumba ran across its bonnet.

At 11.30am on Wednesday, after several failed attempts to contain the zebra and to the dismay of the circus’s employees, the animal was shot dead by a rescue officer.

The circumstances that led to the firing of the lethal bullet have been disputed. According to a spokesperson for the Rostock city authorities, the use of a tranquilliser dart had not been an option since the “uncontainable” zebra posed a threat and had to be shot from a distance of 60 metres.

But witnesses told German media that the shot had been fired from a distance of about 10 metres. “There was no danger,” one resident, Petra Melchin, told Die Welt. “He was exhausted, his head was down.”

The owners of Circus Barlay have said they will press charges against the shooter. A police spokesperson told the Bild newspaper that authorities had not been aware that animal rescue services were carrying live rounds.


Philip Oltermann in Berlin

The GuardianTramp

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