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Sixteen people were at Whipsnade Zoo’s Lookout Lodge when two brown bears broke out and were shot

Sixteen people were at £300 ‘overnight experience’ at Whipsnade Zoo’s lodge when two brown bears escaped and were shot dead to fury of animal lovers

  • Sixteen people were enjoying £300 stay at Whipsnade Zoo when bears escaped
  • Two females, named Snow White and Sleeping Beauty, were shot dead on Friday
  • Critics say incident should prompt questions about the possible future of zoos

Sixteen people were enjoying a £300 ‘overnight experience’ at Whipsnade Zoo when two brown bears broke out of their pen and attacked a wild boar, it emerged yesterday.

The two female bears, named Snow White and Sleeping Beauty, were shot dead on Friday morning after they used a fallen tree to clamber into a nearby boar enclosure. A third bear, Cinderella, did not escape.

The boar survived but keepers killed the two bears over concerns about an ‘immediate threat to human life’.

Two of the three bears in the enclosure escaped via a fallen tree and were shot dead on Friday

Stays at Whipsnade’s Lookout Lodge cost £298 per night and include a drink on arrival for visitors

Stays at Whipsnade’s Lookout Lodge cost £298 per night and include a drink on arrival for visitors

The park has promised an investigation, but critics said the deaths should prompt questions about the future of zoos, adding there was ‘no conservation purpose’ for the bears to be there.

The stays at Whipsnade’s Lookout Lodge cost £298 per night and include a drink on arrival, a two-course dinner and full English breakfast. Guests are also taken on special after-hours tours of the zoo at sunset, after dark and in the morning.

The Lodge, the bear pen and the boar enclosure are all in the ‘Europe’ zone of the 600-acre zoo in Bedfordshire. 

A zoo spokesperson said all those who had stayed overnight were indoors, and ‘a large distance away’ when the bears escaped at around 7.30am.

The zoo said those staying at the Lookout Lodges (pictured) were 'a long way away' from the escaping bears

The zoo said those staying at the Lookout Lodges (pictured) were ‘a long way away’ from the escaping bears

The inside of one of the £300 a night Lookout Lodges offered at Whipsnade Zoo where bears got out of their enclosure

The inside of one of the £300 a night Lookout Lodges offered at Whipsnade Zoo where bears got out of their enclosure

Director of charity Freedom For Animals, Sam Threadgill, said: ‘This one really tragic incident highlights wider questions about why we keep animals in zoos. They’ve been tragically killed because of the fact that they were in the zoo.’

Malcolm Fitzpatrick, Whipsnade chief curator, said tranquillisers would have taken too long to work, leaving staff and other animals in the zoo ‘at high risk’ from the ‘dangerous predators’.

The bears arrived at the zoo in 2017 and were five years old.

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