Swedish zoo executes chimpanzees

Furuvik Zoo has come in for harsh criticism after shooting dead three chimps who broke out of their enclosure

Swedish zoo executes chimpanzees

Swedish zoo executes chimpanzees

The primates had escaped from their enclosure and were roaming the zoo peacefully outside of visiting hours

Staff at Furuvik Zoo in southern Sweden shot and killed three chimpanzees after all seven of the facility's primates mysteriously escaped from their enclosure on Wednesday, operator Parks and Resorts revealed on Thursday. A fourth chimp was also shot but survived.

Spokeswoman Annika Troselius defended the decision to shoot the creatures dead following harsh criticism on Facebook, telling AFP that chimpanzees are “considered a high-risk animal” and “can pose a threat to people’s lives” should they escape.

Chimpanzees can be thought to be peaceful but they are extremely dangerous,” staff wrote in a Facebook post on Wednesday, warning “they are fast, very strong and generally fearless” and claiming that an encounter “can quickly escalate to a life-threatening situation.” 

When a chimpanzee is loose in the park, you unfortunately need to shoot to euthanize it,” the post continued, insisting the zoo’s “grief” over the slain primates was “extremely heavy.” 

Furuvik insisted that tranquilizing the chimps “was not an alternative” to killing them, pointing out in another post that it would have required someone to get “very close to the animal” and that the drugs took as many as 10 minutes to have an effect. Troselius added that there was not enough tranquilizer to knock out all four creatures. 

The park was closed to visitors for the season when the chimpanzees escaped, meaning no guests were present for the monkeys to maul, and it is not clear how they made it out of their enclosure on Wednesday before they were spotted roaming through the facility. Staff were evacuated or locked down, and the park allegedly remains on “full alert” as of Thursday.

The four remaining primates were said to be back in their building as of Thursday, though staff explained on Facebook that they were not back in their enclosure yet and that caretakers from other zoos had to be brought in to attempt to secure them. “This means that we can’t let people move freely inside the zoo and we are still on high alert,” Furuvik Zoo wrote.