After initial reports of an escape, a Cleveland Metroparks Zoo official has been able to confirm the details of the wolf event.
According to Cleveland Metroparks’ Director of Communications Jacqueline Gerling, a single wolf did escape its zoo enclosure. Gerling tells local WLWT5 that “officials are still gathering details on how the wolf was able to escape. Once more information is available, it’ll be released at a later date, she concluded for the outlet.
As for what we do know, the escapee was a Mexican gray wolf that managed to break free of its enclosure on Monday Morning, Sept. 5. Thankfully, Cleveland Metroparks Zoo staff were able to tranquilize and safely apprehend the wolf before it or any guests were injured.
As of Monday afternoon, the zoo is safe for guests and is resuming normal operations. The wolf’s escape, however, remains troubling for zoo staff. An investigation will remain open until the exact nature of the canine’s escape comes to light.
Earlier today, a handful of statements from local reporters surfaced on Twitter after the wolf’s escape.
“Happening now at the Cleveland Zoo, the wolves have escaped their habitat, and the zoo is on lockdown down mode,” read the initial tweet sent out by Fox 8 News of Cleveland reporter Tino Bovenzi at 10:08 AM Monday morning. “Guests are being shuttled into buildings for safety. Staff employees are trying to locate the wolves for capture,” Bovenzi continued.
This tweet was quickly deleted, however, and more details came to light. Amid mentions of “code red” calls ringing out across zoo staff walkie talkies, further reports clarified that it was a single wolf that managed to escape – and not Cleveland Metropark’s entire pack of Mexican gray wolves.
The Mexican Gray Wolf (canis lupus baileyi)
While the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo lists the Mexican gray wolves as “least concern” on their website, other conservation agencies consider the unique canines as the most critically endangered subspecies of wolf on the planet.
“Smallest of the Gray Wolf subspecies, Mexican Gray Wolves are 54 to 66 inches in length from snout to tail, and their weight is 50 to 90 pounds (22 to 40 kg). Their coat is a varied mixture of tan, red, white, and black fur. They are generally light in color on their lower muzzle, chest, and underbelly, while their head, shoulders and back are darker in color,” the zoo’s website cites of the species.
Once common across the Southwest, these wolves now reside within the Blue Range Wolf Recovery Area. This east-central Arizona and west-central New Mexico reserve houses their only presence in today’s United States. They are in danger of extinction across their remaining natural range due to hunting, trapping, and poisoning. This is why many zoos, alongside Cleveland Metroparks Zoo, have begun captive breeding programs of the Mexican gray wolf.