Anyway, that's just my $.02, but here's the official statement about the incident:
The unfortunate incident last week at the Minnesota Zoo with the escaped Mexican grey wolf was tragic, and we are deeply saddened by the outcome. The incident was not only a tragedy for the wolf; it is also a tragedy for the species, as it could perpetuate the myth that wild wolves are a danger to people. If you are in Northern Minnesota and see or hear a wolf you should feel lucky, not afraid. A wolf, comfortable and secure in its own territory, does not pose a threat to people unless people threaten the wolf. That was not the situation at the Zoo. A frightened and disoriented wolf, running along visitor pathways, hemmed in by exhibit fences, is a potential danger to people. With the thousands of people on zoo site and the speed at which the wolf was moving, there was a chance of the wolf becoming cornered with fences, gates, or a building on one side and people on another. In that situation the wolf would be expected to defend itself and therefore pose a danger to people and to the many hoofed animals ranging along our Northern Trail.
This is the first escape of a potentially dangerous animal in the 33-year history of the Zoo. It was precipitated by the temporary housing of our Mexican wolf in an off-exhibit enclosure in order to accommodate other wolves that had been rescued from the flooding at the Dakota Zoo. That this temporary enclosure proved not to be secure is something for which we take full responsibility, and have quickly remedied.
However, once the wolf had escaped both the holding enclosure and the secondary keeper enclosure, our emergency policies were activated, and our team quickly and calmly cleared the immediate area, escorted guests to safe locations, and mobilized efforts to recover the wolf.
We have explained in detail why attempting to tranquilize the wolf was not a viable option in this instance. The difficulty of accurately delivering a dart, and the delay between a successful delivery and the tranquilizing agent taking effect could easily have escalated the potential risk to public safety. While a small number of wolf experts–some of whom we have collaborated with and hold in great professional regard–have questioned the necessity of shooting the wolf, I respectfully note that they were not here to appreciate the context of the event, nor are they responsible for the safety and well-being of thousands of children and adult visitors and a diverse animal collection.
The Minnesota Zoo has worked long and hard to make the case for wolves. Our wolf exhibits and wolf-focused education programs have won national awards. We have provided scientific and financial support for wolf conservation programs, including the Mexican Wolf Recovery Plan. Our animal management staff care deeply about every animal at the Zoo, and are now feeling more pain and heartache than is imaginable. We stand by our response, and are grateful for the many commendations we have received from guests who were at the Zoo that day, as well as the support offered by our licensing agency (U.S. Department of Agriculture) and our accrediting organization (the Association of Zoos and Aquariums).
The Minnesota Zoo has been–and remains–one of the safest and most engaging places for families to re-connect with nature. We remain a sanctuary for animals, providing naturalistic and enriched environments that have set the pace for zoos throughout the world. We remain a center for conservation, with endangered species breeding and reintroduction programs, support for in situ wildlife preservation, and public education efforts that reach millions of people, here in Minnesota and across the globe. The events of last week were very sad, and of course we will learn from the experience. But we take great pride in the services and opportunities we provide–to our animals, our guests, and the natural world–and we are confident the Minnesota community will continue to support our vital work.
Lee C. Ehmke