Published 16th June 2021
Waterbuck Escape at Port Lympne Hotel & Reserve
Late on Saturday afternoon, two waterbuck escaped from their enclosure and gained access to a public footpath, where they were sighted by a member of the public who reported it to our team.
Our emergency procedures were immediately implemented and the local police and all relevant authorities were informed of the escape. We then dispatched a team of rangers, keepers and a vet to assess the situation.
Our experienced team was on the scene within minutes, where they quickly located the animals. Male waterbuck are considered category one animals and our first priority was to ensure the safety of the public, our team and other animals.
Our team began by making a concerted effort to return the waterbuck to their enclosure while continuing to assess the situation. After a short while, it became apparent that the waterbuck would not return to their enclosure and they were straying closer to an area which is very popular with local dog walkers. At this point our experienced team made the decision to euthanise the animals to ensure the safety of the public.
This is not a decision we take lightly. However, when we see a threat to the public we have no choice but to act decisively.
Our team is trained for these situations but they are something which no keeper, ranger or vet ever wishes to face. Despite the team’s training, the loss of two waterbuck will weigh heavily on those who made the very difficult decision to euthanise. We appreciate your support of our team over the coming days.
The most common question we are being asked is why we did not simply sedate the waterbuck using a tranquiliser gun.
The short answer is that we would have if it were possible.
Unfortunately, tranquiliser guns do not have the instant effect you may have seen in films and television. The drugs used take at least 20 minutes to kick in. During this time, the animals can become distressed, unpredictable and aggressive. We were unwilling to take that risk. This left euthanusia as our only option.
The entire team is deeply saddened by the outcome of this incident. It is something which none of us would have chosen. However, we believe our actions were correct and required to ensure the safety of the public.
A full internal investigation will take place in due course.
Thank you for your support during this challenging time.