Three chimpanzees were shot dead after they escaped from their enclosure in Furuvik Zoo in Sweden, and tried to find freedom before being killed on Wednesday 14th December 2022. Four other chimpanzees also escaped, and one was injured after being shot. Despite the zoo being closed for the season so members of the public were not present, the zoo decided to try to kill the apes because they concluded they could not recapture them alive. Annika Troselius, a press spokeswoman for the zoo, told the Expressen daily that the animals had to be killed because the zoo did not have enough tranquilisers for all of them.

Mathias Osvath, a researcher who knew the chimpanzees for several years, told the BBC, “if I’d met them in the park my pulse would have risen but I wouldn’t have been afraid for my life. It’s a tragedy.” Furuvik zoo is near Gävle, 165km north of Stockholm, and is part of an amusement park. Early in the year, Kolmården Zoo, the largest in Scandinavia, announced it will stop exhibiting its dolphins to the public, but still will keep all the other animals locked inside. However, as we can see in the case of Furuvik Zoo, zoos cannot guarantee the safety of all their inmates. In October, a king cobra escaped from its terrarium at another zoo in Sweden, the Skansen Aquarium, but returned by himself after a week of freedom, possibly because he found it far too cold outside.

Animals in zoos are kept captive against their will, and when they have the opportunity they often try to escape, but because they are normally kept in countries very far from their native habitats, they often do not make it after escaping, either because of exposure to the elements, difficulties in finding food, or, most likely, because they would be killed by humans — those who only “like” them when they are behind bars. 

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“Originally from Catalonia, but resident in the UK for several decades, Jordi is a vegan zoologist and author, who has been involved in different aspects of animal protection for many years. In addition to scientific research, he has worked mostly as an undercover investigator, animal welfare consultant, and animal protection campaigner. He has been an ethical vegan since 2002, and in 2020 he secured the legal protection of all ethical vegans in Great Britain from discrimination in a landmark employment tribunal case that was discussed all over the world. He is also the author of the book, ‘Ethical Vegan: a personal and political journey to change the world’.