[holding answer 23 October 2007]: My Department has no direct role in decisions regarding the shooting of escaped zoo animals.
Zoos are regulated by means of a licensing and inspection regime administered by local authorities. South Bedfordshire district council is responsible for licensing Whipsnade Zoo where this incident took place. I understand the council is investigating the incident and that a full inspection of the zoo will be carried out in due course.
I also understand that Whipsnade Zoo is carrying out its own investigation into why the chimpanzee escaped from its enclosure.
[holding answer 23 October 2007]: Section 1A(d) of the Zoo Licensing Act 1981 (as amended) requires zoos to prevent the escape of animals and to put in place measures to be taken in the event of an escape or unauthorised release of animals.
In addition, DEFRA's Secretary of State's Standards of Modern Zoo Practice (SSSMZP) provides guidance, to ensure public safety, on the procedures that should be established by the zoo relating to animal escapes.
Procedures relating to animal escapes should include the provision of firearms and darting equipment to tranquillise or kill escaped animals. The precise details of these are discussed and agreed by the zoo operator and the local police. The zoo is responsible for the selection of the appropriate firearm or darting equipment to deal with escaped animals.