British zoo defends decision to kill escaped snow leopard

A British zoo has defended its decision to kill a rare snow leopard that got out of its enclosure when a door was left open.

Dudley Zoo says it had "no other option in the interest of public safety" but to shoot 8-year-old Margaash after he escaped on October 23.

The central England zoo issued a statement on Friday on the "incredibly sad incident." Director Derek Grove said that "as the animal was close to surrounding woodland and dark was approaching, the vet did not believe a tranquillizer dart was a safe option."

The zoo said security was reviewed after the incident.

Snow leopards are found in declining numbers in south and central Asia. The International Union for Conservation of Nature estimates that about 3 000 mature animals remain in the wild.