A snow leopard has been shot dead after escaping from its enclosure at Dudley Zoo in the West Midlands.
A zookeeper left the enclosure door open and eight-year-old Margaash began roaming free.
Dudley Zoo said the snow leopard left the enclosure when the zoo had closed for the evening and all visitors had left the premises.
The incident happened on October 23 at around 5pm.
The zoo has said it was due to ‘keeper error.’
A disciplinary procedure has been held and security is being reviewed.
The zoo said the leopard was killed by a senior member of the firearms team with a single shot and did not suffer.
It said staff had no other option and the decision was taken in the interest of public safety.
Margaash came to live at Dudley Zoo in 2011, where he co-habited with its three-year-old female Taïga.
He fathered a cub that died in 2013.
In a statement, Zoo director Derek Grove said: “This was an incredibly sad incident and our staff are understandably heartbroken.
“Euthanasia is, and always will be, a last resort. Efforts to persuade Margaash to return to his enclosure failed and as the animal was close to surrounding woodland and dark was approaching, the vet did not believe a tranquiliser dart was a safe option due to the amount of time the drug takes to work.
“Safety of the public is always of paramount importance and our staff are highly experienced and rigorously trained.”
The incident has led to outrage on social media.
This isn't my field of expertise so maybe there's a good reason but could they not have used a dart gun to knock the furry chap out for a while? https://t.co/tXE4s1wpXN
— Michael Moran (@TheMichaelMoran) November 30, 2018
Woah. A keeper leaves a door open and now this animal has been killed?! What gives?! Why not tranquilise?
At least he's free now though. At last. https://t.co/BPdDogt4e0
— Kirsty Bosley (@Bozzers) November 30, 2018
What would you suggest they do? Let it run free until it kills somebody?
— Reece (@reeceh53) November 30, 2018