The symbol of Australia at the Papanack Park Zoo died over the May 8 weekend of injuries sustained after she escaped from her enclosure at the roadside zoo and animal breeding station located on County Road 19 in Wendover.
“It is with deep sadness, Willow has crossed the rainbow bridge, and she was under veterinarian care,” stated Papanack Park Zoo, Saturday morning on its Facebook page. “Thank you for all the phone calls and messages.”
Details are not available at present about how Willow got out of her pen. There was a photo posted on the Reddit social media of Willow, seen Friday afternoon, May 7, at the edge of the woods along County Road 17 near Wendover, heading in the direction of Rockland. The person who posted the photo added a note warning motorists and residents in the area to watch out for the kangaroo.
Later that afternoon Willow was injured near where she was last seen. Several motorists who saw the wounded kangaroo trying to cross the road, stopped and worked together to capture her and take her back to the zoo where she received veterinary treatment even though she still died later on.
Papanack Park Zoo has been the subject of past media reports about animals escaping their enclosures. In 2005, when Keith Forgie owned and operated the site, one of the zoo’s Siberian white tigers escaped by digging under the fence of its enclosure after heavy rain had softened the ground. The tiger was recaptured without any serious incident. Changes were made to the fencing, extending the bottom of the fence deeper into the ground and curving inwards to prevent future escapes by digging underneath.
In 2014 ownership of the zoo changed hands. Two years later Zeus, a 300-pound white lion, escaped from his enclosure. He was shot and killed because, zoo co-owner Kerry Bayford explained at the time, trying to tranquilize Zeus in an effort to recapture him would have taken too long and created too great a public risk.
Papanack Zoo has been the focus of criticism by animal rights advocates for its operations. Critics demand the roadside zoo be subject to regular on-site inspections by either an organization like Canada’s Accredited Zoos and Aquariums (CAZA) or the provincial government through its animal welfare inspection service, which reports to the Solicitor General’s office.
EAP left messages to Papanack Park Zoo by phone and through Facebook for information and comment on the escape incident involving Willow the kangaroo.