Wolves attack and seriously injure woman who went jogging in French zoo

June 24, 2024
3,610 Views

Police and prosecutors were investigating how a 37-year-old woman came to be attacked and seriously injured by three wolves in a zoo outside Paris Sunday. The woman was bitten “on the neck, the calf and the back” at the Thoiry zoo around 25 miles west of the French capital, a source close to the case told AFP.

The woman was rescued after park attendants heard her screams as she was being attacked, the BBC reported.

Maryvonne Caillibotte, chief prosecutor in Versailles, had said the woman’s life was in danger, but later Sunday a source told AFP her injuries were no longer life-threatening.

The woman, went out early Sunday morning for a jog after spending the night with her family in the safari-style lodge at the zoo, according to initial findings of the investigation.

CEO of Wow Safari Thoiry, Christelle Bercheny, told AFP that the woman had “crossed the American reserve on foot,” a place normally “only accessible by car.”

arctic-wolf-loup-arctique-gallerie-02.jpg
An Arctic wolf.

Wow Safari Thoiry


Bercheny said that there were signs reminding people of the “rules of survival” to be followed in the park.

“The behavior of the animals in the reserves is that of animals in freedom or semi-liberty,” she added, referring to their reaction to the intrusion of a human.

Lodges in the wolf zone, advertised on its website at between 220 and 760 euros ($235-810) per night, promise “silence, rest and disconnection.”

They offer “a one-of-a-kind, very intimate experience with the Arctic wolves you’ll be able to see from the living room.”

According to the zoo’s website, the Arctic wolf is strictly carnivorous. “His sight, smell and hearing make him an outstanding hunter,” says the zoo, which add that it houses a dominant female, a dominant male and their four cubs.

Arctic wolves, which are also called white wolves or polar wolves, are a subspecies of grey wolves that are found in the frozen landscape of the Arctic, according to the International Fund for Animal Welfare.  “Unlike other wolves who have to deal with human encroachment every day, Arctic wolves have no intrinsic distrust of humans,” the IFAC says. 

The woman “ended up in the safari zone, which is supposed to be restricted to cars. That’s where she was attacked by three wolves,” Caillibotte said.

It was not clear “whether she made a mistake or the trail wasn’t clearly marked”, she added.

First responders got to the scene “very quickly”, the wolves were “moved away, then returned to their area”, Caillibotte said.

The source familiar with the case said earlier the woman must have got through “security systems, a trench and an electric fence supposed to keep the animals in.”

Police are investigating the incident.

Thoiry zoo was founded in 1968 by Paul de la Panouse, owner of a local chateau that has been in his family since the 16th century.

He recalled to the regional newspaper L’Independant in April how he initially stocked the zoo with a ship loaded with 120 animals brought from Kenya.

De la Panouse sold the zoo to a group of investors in 2018.

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