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Wolves apparently freed on purpose, Vancouver zoo says amid ongoing recapture efforts

The wolves that were found outside their enclosure at the Greater Vancouver Zoo Tuesday appear to have been freed on purpose, according to officials.

The Greater Vancouver Zoo issued a statement Tuesday afternoon calling the animals' escape suspicious, and suggesting it was "due to malicious intent."

"Langley RCMP are investigating what appears to be unlawful entry and vandalism," zoo officials said in the statement.

The zoo's website indicates there are normally 15 wolves held in captivity at the Langley property, including six cubs, but authorities have not publicly confirmed how many escaped.

Zoo officials said most had been recovered as of Tuesday afternoon, but that a "small number" remained on the loose.

They said the wolves do not pose any danger to the public.

Families hoping to visit the zoo Tuesday were turned away at the gates, as staff, Mounties and conservation officers responded to the breach.

In an email, the B.C. Conservation Officer Service told CTV News anyone who spots a wolf in the area of the zoo should "keep their distance" and report the animal immediately.

There have been no reports of attacks or injuries associated with the escaped wolves.

For the first several hours of the incident, the Greater Vancouver Zoo provided few details on what was happening, only posting a brief message to Instagram and Facebook informing the public of the closure.

"Important announcement for all zoo guests. The Greater Vancouver Zoo will remain closed for today," the post said, with a picture of the closed gates. "Thank you for understanding!"

One zoo visitor told CTV News they were turned away because of an "issue with an animal," and told nobody was permitted in the park due to safety concerns.

A park attendant said they hadn't been given any details on the incident either.

Over the years, the zoo has been the subject of several complaints and criticisms. Most recently, allegations of animal cruelty put forward by the Vancouver Humane Society were investigated by the SPCA. 

In March, a statement from the Greater Vancouver Zoo about the allegations said it was "made aware of an opinion piece" about the facility.

"The Greater Vancouver Zoo takes the health and welfare of animals very seriously," the statement said.

"As a (Canada Accredited Zoo and Aquarium, and World Association of Zoos and Aquariums) facility we meet and exceed all provincial and federal requirements."

Back in 2019, the humane society filed a similar report alleging animal cruelty. 

According to a study conducted by Research Co. last year on behalf of the humane society, just under half of B.C. residents support keeping animals in permanent captivity for entertainment and education. However, 89 per cent are against the international trade of exotic and wild animals for the purpose of keeping them on display in permanent captivity. Top Stories


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