These images show a wolf that escaped a circus training and breeding centre being mauled by a pack of hunting dogs after being shot.
Authorities in the city of Ezhou in Central China’s Hubei Province confirmed that the wolf was captured and killed at around 9:40am local time today (7th May) and Chinese forestry police are now investigating.
Police and government officials became involved after Xishan Hengxiang animal training and breeding centre reported that it had lost one of its wolves yesterday (6th May).
The animal was spotted walking along an expressway, with staff and hunters said to have searched throughout the night before discovering it this morning.
Zhou Wei, the centre’s owner, said the wolf was shot to death in a villager’s home, although this has not yet been confirmed. It is still unclear if the wolf died as a result of the gunshot or if it succumbed to the injuries it sustained when it was mauled by the dogs.
Meanwhile, footage circulating on social media showed a pack of dogs ripping at the injured wolf before staff members drag its carcass away.
Ezhou’s Emergency Management Bureau had issued warnings on community PA systems warning residents to remain indoors, and to call the police should they encounter the wolf.
But Mr Zhou said the government’s warnings were “exaggerated”, claiming the animal was in fact a wolfdog – a mix between a wolf and a husky.
He told local media: “It was a mix between a dog and wolf, not a pure wolf.
“I’m still not sure how it managed to escape.”
However, officials with the Ezhou Forestry Bureau have contradicted Mr Zhou’s suggest that the animal was less dangerous than first reported.
A spokesman said: “He’s changed his story.
“The animal is registered with us as a wolf. Now he’s saying a wolfdog.
“What our experts know for sure is that it’s aggressive to humans.
“We’re sending pictures to provincial forestry experts in order to determine whether it was indeed a wolf.”
According to reports, Mr Zhou’s licensed breeding facility trains and rears circus animals such as lions, tigers, macaques, bears, zebras and wolves.
It was still unclear whether or not he faced a fine for allowing his animal to escape.
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