Saturday, November 1, 2014

With quarantine lifted after reported bite, ZooMontana wolves back on display

October 31, 2014  • 

The 10-day quarantine placed on ZooMontana’s pair of gray wolves after a report that one of them might have bitten a young child has ended, and the wolves are back on public view.

Jeff Ewelt, the zoo’s executive director, said Billings Animal Control put the mandatory quarantine in place after a local clinic called the zoo on Oct. 19 and said it was treating a child, about 3 years old, for a possible wolf bite.

The injuries were described as not serious and were being treated as a minor dog bite.

Few details about the incident itself are known by the zoo, and neither the family nor any witnesses or anybody else with information about the incident has stepped forward to speak with zoo officials.

The United States Department of Agriculture inspected the wolves’ enclosure at the zoo, and while a final report hasn’t been issued, Ewelt said initial investigations have shown that the zoo was in compliance with the exhibit’s fencing.

It’s also not immediately clear how the incident might have happened, as the enclosure has a secondary fence at its outer edges that a person would have to climb or be lifted over in order to get close to the wolves and the primary fence.

“I’m looking forward to putting this incident behind us,” Ewelt said. “We look forward to getting our healthy wolves back into the public eye.”

New signs have been added to the outer fence to caution the public to stay on the designated side of the fence.

Ewelt said he expects the USDA final report to be finished within the next several days.