The Mexican gray wolf was “secured by staff after briefly breaching its habitat,” the zoo said.
Guests at the zoo report being rushed into buildings for safety.
“We were making our way down to the giraffes and all of a sudden, my husband saw this wolf run right by us. We thought maybe it was a coyote,” said guest Kelly Reisinger.
The zoo said no guests or employees were harmed.
The zoo is home to several Mexican gray wolves, which can weigh up to 90 pounds. These are the smallest of the gray wolves and typically travel in packs. Their diet in the wild primarily consists of elk, deer, rabbit and other small mammals. At the zoo, they are fed Mazuri Exotic Canine diet, rabbits, horse meat and chicken.
“The wolves were moved into an off exhibit holding area pending some work being done on the main exhibit at the zoo,” said Dr. Chris Kuhar, Executive Director of the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo. “We were able to locate the wolf. It ran through the public space for about five minutes before we were able to get it to a nonpublic area. The wolf was then tranquilized with a dart.”
Kuhar said human error is not believed to be a factor in the escape. The entire incident lasted just under one hour, he said.
The wolf received a full health inspection before being returned to the group.
“They’re not actually on our dangerous animal list because we expect them to move away from people,” said Kuhar. “They don’t really like people very much. They tend to move away from them and that’s what we saw today.”
The park is safe for guests and has resumed normal operations, the zoo said.
This incident remains under investigation.