Hersheypark Bison Shot to Spare Drowning

Zookeepers say it was the humane choice

Editor's Note: This story was published on Sept. 9, 2011.

Two bison trapped at a Pennsyvania zoo were shot to spare them from drowning in rapidly rising floodwaters.

Officials at Hersheypark's ZooAmerica defended the decision as the most humane choice, though critics blasted it. The one-ton animals were trapped in their pen as waters surged from Tropical Storm Lee. Zookeepers could not evacuate them, though they managed to save other animals.

"Unfortunately, no one could anticipate a weather event that went from inches of rain to feet of flooding in a matter of a few short minutes," the zoo said in its statement. "Faced with the prospect of watching the extended suffering of the bison and their eventual death due to drowning, the zoo staff chose the most humane path possible and euthanized the bison."

A zoo spokeswoman told philly.com waters from nearby Spring Creek overwhelmed zookeepers as they tried to take hundreds of animals to higher ground.

"We had a plan and we put it in effect, but the circumstances were beyond anything that we had ever seen," said Mindy Bianca, public relations director for Hershey Entertainment & Resorts Co.

She said all the zoo's other animals were accounted for.

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