A chimpanzee was shot dead by zoo officials after escaping from its enclosure at the Attica Zoological Park in Athens, Greece. According to the zoo, the chimpanzee, who was a 27-year-old male, escaped his cage leaving eight chimpanzees behind, got over an electric fence, and then went to the zoo’s parking lot, where he was finally killed. The zoo is privately owned and has been criticised in the past regarding the welfare of its animals, especially in reference to the dolphins it keeps captive. Two jaguars were killed at the same zoo in 2018 after escaping their cages.
The Panhellenic Animal Welfare and Environmental Federation has organised protests outside of the zoo, which will be now investigated to find out how the chimpanzee escaped and whether his killing was justified. Deputy Environment Minister Giorgos Amyras reportedly asked for a full investigation of the incident.
In a statement, the zoo said, “The police were informed, the visitors were isolated and the chimpanzee, with the coordinated actions by the security staff in the presence of the veterinarians, was taken to an isolated area on the security perimeter of the Park, where it was deemed necessary to neutralise it 20 minutes later.” They use the term “neutralise” as a euphemism for shotting him dead, which is the kind of language a prison officer would likely use to describe killing an inmate who escaped. Wild animals in zoos suffer a great deal, so they try to escape when the opportunity arises. A common response would be to kill the animals that dare to do so. In May 2021, two brown bears were shot and killed after escaping from Whipsnade in Dunstable, UK. A few months later, after nine captive wolves managed to escape from their enclosure in a French zoo during visiting hours, four were shot dead and the remaining were recaptured so they could continue spending their “live sentence” behind bars.