Edinburgh Zoo bull put down after ‘dominance fight’ led to escape

A Heck cattle bull has been put to sleep after escaping from its enclosure. Picture: TSPL
A Heck cattle bull has been put to sleep after escaping from its enclosure. Picture: TSPL
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A BULL which caused chaos after it escaped from its enclosure at Edinburgh Zoo on Monday has been put down due to injuries it sustained.

The Heck cattle bull was involved in a dominance fight with another animal and was forced out of its enclosure.

It was on the loose for 40 minutes before keepers managed to capture and tranquilise the beast.

However, the injuries it sustained were so severe that experts were forced to euthanise the animal.

A zoo spokesman said: “The incident on September 3, in which an adult Heck cattle bull escaped its enclosure at Edinburgh Zoo, was caused when an older and a younger bull engaged in a dominance fight.

“We believe the younger bull injured the older bull on the left hand side of its chest and pushed him through the enclosure fencing. The older bull stayed within the vicinity of the enclosure, prior to being darted by keepers.

“Unfortunately, due to the severity of the animal’s injuries, our veterinary staff then needed to painlessly put the animal to sleep early on Monday evening. A post-mortem is being carried out at Edinburgh Vet School.”

An evacuation of the zoo began at around 3pm when the bull got loose, with some people asked to wait inside the chimpanzee house and the cafe while the lock-down was in process.

The heck cattle were originally created through a selective breeding programme started by two prominent German zoologists in the 1920s, and later backed by the Nazi party, especially Herman Goering, the head of Hitler’s Luftwaffe. The party backed the breeding programme as part of a bizarre and unsuccessful attempt to bring back the extinct aurochs, the ancient ancestors of all modern cattle.

Edinburgh Zoo has a herd of nine heck cattle: three bulls and six cows, which arrived in 2009 from Devon. They can be aggressive and were described by keepers on their arrival as “quite dangerous animals”.