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Woman critically injured in wolf attack at French zoo

Image Credits: UnsplashImage Credits: Unsplash
  • A 37-year-old woman is in critical condition after being attacked by three wolves at Thoiry zoo near Paris.
  • The incident occurred in a restricted safari zone, raising questions about the zoo's safety protocols and visitor guidelines.
  • An investigation is underway to determine how the woman accessed the restricted area and whether there were any lapses in security measures.

A tranquil morning jog turned into a nightmare for a 37-year-old woman at Thoiry zoo, located about 40 kilometers west of Paris. The woman, who was staying with her family in one of the zoo's safari-themed lodges, ventured into a restricted area and was viciously attacked by three arctic wolves. The incident has left her fighting for her life, with severe injuries to her neck, calf, and back.

According to Maryvonne Caillibotte, the chief prosecutor in Versailles, the woman’s condition is critical. "Her life is at risk," Caillibotte stated, emphasizing the gravity of the situation. The woman had spent the night at the park and decided to go for a jog alone, inadvertently entering the safari zone, which is designated exclusively for vehicles. This area is supposed to be off-limits to pedestrians, raising questions about the clarity of the zoo's safety markings and protocols.

The Thoiry zoo, established in 1968 by Paul de la Panouse, is renowned for its safari-style experience, allowing visitors to observe animals from the safety of their vehicles. The zoo spans 150 hectares and is home to around 1,500 animals across 100 species. The lodges, particularly those in the wolf zone, are advertised as offering a unique and intimate experience with arctic wolves, visible from the living room. These accommodations range from €220 to €760 per night, promoting a serene and immersive wildlife experience.

However, this incident has cast a shadow over the zoo's safety measures. A source familiar with the situation revealed that the woman managed to breach multiple security barriers, including a trench and an electric fence designed to contain the wolves. "She was bitten on the neck, the calf, and the back," the source added, highlighting the severity of the attack.

First responders arrived swiftly, managing to move the wolves away and provide immediate medical attention to the victim. The wolves were temporarily relocated before being returned to their designated area. The zoo authorities have yet to make an official statement, but an investigation is underway to determine how the woman accessed the restricted zone and whether there were any lapses in the zoo's security systems.

This tragic event has sparked a broader conversation about visitor safety in wildlife parks. While Thoiry zoo offers a unique and immersive experience, the incident underscores the importance of stringent safety protocols and clear visitor guidelines. Ensuring that such areas are well-marked and secure is crucial to prevent similar occurrences in the future.

In a previous interview with the regional newspaper L'Independant, Paul de la Panouse recounted how he initially populated the zoo with 120 animals imported from Kenya. The zoo was sold to a consortium of investors in 2018, but it has continued to uphold its reputation as one of France's premier wildlife parks. This incident, however, may prompt a reevaluation of its safety measures and visitor policies.

As the investigation continues, the focus remains on the victim's recovery and the steps that can be taken to enhance safety at Thoiry zoo. The incident serves as a stark reminder of the unpredictable nature of wildlife and the need for rigorous safety standards in environments where humans and animals coexist.

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