An employee at the Kolmarden Wildlife Park in Sweden was killed Sunday morning by a pack of wolves she had helped raise.
Eight wolves reportedly attacked the woman after she entered their enclosure around 11 a.m., witnesses told the Independent. There are no reports about what precipitated the attack, but the victim entered the enclosure to “maintain contact with the wolves” — which a Kolmarden statement said she had been doing since they were pups.
The woman, who remains unidentified, reportedly followed standard zoo procedure, and notified her colleagues that she was visiting the wolves. When other Kolmarden employees could not reach her over the radio, they went to check the wolf enclosure, and discovered the victim already dead with no obvious evidence as to the origin of the attack, CNN reported.
“She was so badly hurt in the attack that she died of her injuries,” a police spokesman for the zoo’s district told Reuters. “We do not know why they attacked.”
Even after discovering the zookeeper’s body, officials had some difficulty safely recovering her remains. Newser reports that zoo staff were forced to make a human chain to move the wolves away from the body, and local papers claimed that the animals were given sedatives so that ambulance workers could enter the enclosure.
“You can’t just go into a pack of wolves. Police and ambulance staff couldn’t get close to the victim until later,” said Jan Tengeborg, emergency services coordinator in the nearby city of Norrkoping, according to the Independent.
The website for Kolmarden Wildlife Park declares that visitors can have “wild encounters” at its facilities, including the opportunity to pet some of the wolves. A statement released by the zoo claims that the attack occurred ”beyond the public areas of Kolmarden.”
This is not the first attack at Kolmarden: A wolf in the public area bit a 15-year-old Swedish girl in her thigh after she panicked at the sight of it. Mats Höggren, zoological head of the park, told local news sources that when the girl acted scared, the animal’s natural reaction was to pounce.
After the most recent attack, Höggren announced that Kolmarden would be reviewing its safety policies — the zoo has not announced if it will consider putting down any of the wolves.