Three chimpanzees shot dead after escape from Swedish zoo

Furuviksparken zoo said the animals ‘tragically’ had to be put down because of the danger to the public

Three chimpanzees escaped from their enclosure in a Swedish zoo for several hours before being shot dead, according to Swedish media, while a fourth was wounded and a fifth was believed to have returned unharmed to the zoo of its own accord.

“They are very strong animals and absolutely not domesticated,” Daniel Wikdahl, a police spokesman, told the public broadcaster SVT on Wednesday, adding that it had been the zoo’s decision to shoot the four because of the danger to the public.

Journalists who arrived on the scene after the escape at 1pm said police told them to “get back in your car and leave” for their own safety. The daily Dagens Nyheter said seven marksmen were called in, aided by a large number of police and several drones.

Annika Troselius, a spokeswoman for the Furuviksparken zoo near Gävle, 165km (100 miles) north of Stockholm, said the animals had had to be put down because there was not enough tranquiliser to subdue all of them.

“We had vets on scene, but they made the assessment that we didn’t have enough anaesthetic. That’s why we called for the marksmen,” Troselius told TV4. “This whole situation is tragic in every possible way. We take full responsibility.”

Troselius said the zoo believed the fifth chimpanzee had returned of its own volition. “But this is an ongoing event,” she told Dagens Nyheter. “We have to be sure the last chimpanzees are actually in the enclosure, and this must be done with great care.”

The zoo urged urged residents to stay indoors, lock their doors and close their windows. “Chimpanzees are strong animals and have a high risk classification,” Troselius said. “Our staff are not allowed to work in close contact with them.”

Furuviksparken, which is currently closed for the season, has seven chimpanzees and is reportedly the only primate research station in the Nordic region. It said in a statement it did not know how the animals had escaped, but would investigate.

“We are taking this very seriously indeed,” Troselius said. “Safety is very important to us and our first focus is to make sure no one gets hurt. Then of course we will investigate this so that it can never happen again.”


Jon Henley and agencies

The GuardianTramp

Related Content

Article image
Paris zoo shut after 50 baboons escape
Visitors to Paris Zoological Park evacuated as workers try to lure animals back to enclosures

Kim Willsher in Paris

26, Jan, 2018 @3:03 PM

Article image
Rhino shot dead by poachers at French zoo
Horn removed from four-year-old Vince in ‘act of extreme violence’, says park director

Kim Willsher in Paris

07, Mar, 2017 @3:59 PM

Article image
Swedish firm deploys crows to pick up cigarette butts
Clever corvids become newest weapon in Södertälje’s war against street litter

Daniel Boffey in Brussels

01, Feb, 2022 @9:35 AM

Article image
'Tinder for orangutans': Dutch zoo to let female choose mate on a tablet
Orangutan Samboja will be shown males on a touchscreen in experiment aimed at learning more about mating choices

Jon Henley European affairs correspondent

31, Jan, 2017 @2:52 PM

Article image
Anger as zebra shot dead in Germany after circus escape
Animal rescue services criticised for killing animal that ran on to motorway

Philip Oltermann in Berlin

03, Oct, 2019 @10:55 AM

Article image
Sweden to build reindeer bridges over roads and railways
‘Renoducts’ will help animals who have to roam further for food due to global heating

Jon Henley

20, Jan, 2021 @1:16 PM

Article image
Hunters shoot dead 54 wolves in Sweden’s largest ever cull
Scientists warn that wolf numbers not large enough to sustain healthy population

Jon Henley Europe correspondent

07, Feb, 2023 @11:48 AM

Article image
Greta Thunberg condemns UK firm’s plans for iron mine on Sami land
Beowulf Mining ‘hopeful’ for decision on mine in Sápmi despite opposition from activist, UN and Swedish church

Daniel Boffey in Jokkmokk, Sweden

11, Feb, 2022 @10:32 AM

Article image
Flight of the feathered racists: the Swedish bird names that had to go | Patrick Barkham
The hottentott teal and Gypsy bird have been renamed by Sweden’s birders. Happily, boobies and shags are the worst UK ornithology can offer

Patrick Barkham

03, Mar, 2015 @7:00 AM

Article image
Swedish government aims to cull wolf population by as much as half
Decision, which could breach EU biodiversity law, due to increasing ‘conflict’ between wolves and humans

Jon Henley

24, May, 2022 @12:38 PM