A pack of African wild dogs at a British safari park is in the dog house, after going on a murderous spree during a wild storm.
The 12 wild dogs escaped from their enclosure at the West Midland Safari Park in Bewdley, Worcestershire, as Storm Ciara swept across Britain last week, getting into a neighbouring pen and killing six Persian fallow deer and 10 Barbary sheep.
A spokeswoman for the park said staff were "extremely saddened" at the animals' deaths, which came early on February 9.
"At no point was there a risk to public safety and there was no danger of any animals escaping the park's perimeter fencing," the spokeswoman said.
She said the wild dogs were returned to their compound unharmed.
"The wild dogs entered the neighbouring compound through a gated entrance, which had been damaged in the storm that hit Worcestershire earlier that morning," the spokeswoman said.
"Given their personal attachment to our animals, our staff are extremely saddened by the incident."
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Our African wild dogs love their fire hose enrichment! ❤️ Last summer, @hose2habitat visited the Park to run an enrichment building workshop. Our keepers were very thankful for the excellent techniques they learnt for building enrichment, such as these fire hose 'hearts'! ☺️ • • • • #wmsp#safari#animals#amazinganimals#westmidlands#safaripark#nature#wildlife#wildlifephotography#naturephotography#wilddog#africanwilddog#enrichment#love
Ciara brought hurricane-force winds and heavy rain to Britain and much of northern Europe. At least seven people are thought to have died in the storm, which also halted flights and trains and closed ports on both sides of the Channel.
With Britain bracing for another life-threatening storm this weekend, the spokeswoman said park staff would be prepared.
"We are aware of the current weather warnings in place for this weekend and will monitor this closely, making our decisions, as always, in the best interests of our animals and public safety," she said.
According to the World Wildlife Fund, the African wild dog is "one of the world's most endangered mammals", with only about 1400 left in the wild.
The predator, which gathers in packs, hunts species such as gazelles and can reach speeds of more than 70km/h.