The Minnesota Zoo has been involved in a Mexican Gray Wolf breeding and reintroduction program for some time now. Last I checked, it was not going well …. they were not having mush success in getting the wolves to produce offspring. I think they had some puppies in 2003, but I’m not sure of their status. The problem with at least some of their wolves is that they were born and raised in captivity. The “cultural” side of the reproductive process had been pruned from their lineage, so they kinda-sorta did things vaguely related to wolf-sex but that wasn’t enough.
Anyway, yesterday one of the wolves nosed its way through the fence of its enclosure, jumped over another fence and started prancing around among the visitors, so the zookeepers shot it to death. They say that tranquilizers were not an option. Apparently there were no other options either.
I’m not blaming the zoo for anything here, and in fact I’m not making any specific statements about anything …. just asking the question: Has the zoo’s role in reintroduction and survival of this small population of wolves been on balance positive, neutral, or negative? That question can’t easily be asked in terms of education. I’d be willing to bet that at the level of public education the zoo has had a very positive impact. I’m asking, specifically, about simple numbers. How many wolves have been in the zoo, how many have been released, that sort of thing.
A secondary question might be this: Shouldn’t there be a better strategy for dealing with an escaped wolf?