A SNOW leopard at Dudley Zoo died from a single shot after escaping his enclosure, it has been announced.

Margaash, an eight-year-old snow leopard, was euthanised by a senior member of the firearms team after getting out of his enclosure through an open door.

He was shot in order to protect public safety, a statement from the zoo read.

Zoo Director Derek Grove said: “This was an incredibly sad incident and our staff are understandably heartbroken.

“Euthanasia is, and always will be, a last resort. Efforts to persuade Margaash to return to his enclosure failed and as the animal was close to surrounding woodland and dark was approaching, the vet did not believe a tranquiliser dart was a safe option due to the amount of time the drug takes to work.

“Safety of the public is always of paramount importance and our staff are highly experienced and rigorously trained.”

Margaash came to Dudley Zoo in September 2013 and lived with three-year-old female Taïga.

The incident took place on October 23 after the zoo had closed and visitors had left the site.

Since then the zoo has investigated what happened and carried out a 'stringent' review of all zoo enclosure security.

Margaash's adopters were told of his death shortly after it happened and keepers explained the circumstances to visitors.