A hybrid brown-polar bear who escaped her enclosure at a German zoo was shot dead while visitors huddled in the safety of the monkey house Saturday.
The bear, a visitor favorite named Tips, busted through a fence at the Osnabrück Zoo in northern Germany. A zookeeper managed to coax Tips’ brother, Taps, back into this pen before he, too, could slip through the fence.
Tips passed the lions and was heading to the flamingo enclosure when she was shot. There were some 4,000 visitors at the zoo when she escaped. They were evacuated after Tips’ bold rush to freedom, with some being ushered to safety in nearby buildings, including the monkey house, reported Deutsche Welle, citing an article in the Osnabrücker Zeitung.
Officials said they opted not to use a tranquilizer gun on Tips because the sedative would have taken up to 20 minutes to take effect.
“We reacted immediately with the team; to protect visitors we had to shoot the animal,” the zoo’s business manager Andreas Busemann told the Deutsche Presse-Agentur news agency.
Visitors and zoo officials were devastated by the killing. Tips and Taps were born 10 years ago to a brown bear and a polar bear, and have lived together ever since. They were a fascinating pair because they exhibited the behaviors of both brown bears and polar bears.
PETA expert Peter Höffken blasted the killing, saying that Tips “simply wanted to be free, and she paid for it with her life.” Local police said it had to be done to protect zoo visitors.
It was a bad bear week in Germany. Last Monday, Berlin’s beloved bear cub Fritz succumbed to a mysterious illness at the city’s Tierpark Zoo.