Wolf attack at French zoo leaves woman seriously injured

A source familiar with the case said a variety of security measures supposed to keep the animals away from visitors (MARTIN BUREAU)
A source familiar with the case said a variety of security measures supposed to keep the animals away from visitors (MARTIN BUREAU)

Police and prosecutors were investigating how a 37-year-old woman came to be attacked and seriously injured by three wolves in a zoo outside Paris Sunday.

The woman was bitten "on the neck, the calf and the back" at the Thoiry zoo around 40 kilometres (25 miles) west of the French capital, a source close to the case told AFP.

Maryvonne Caillibotte, chief prosecutor in Versailles, had said the woman's life was in danger, but later Sunday a source told AFP her injuries were no longer life-threatening.

The woman, went out early Sunday morning for a jog after spending the night with her family in the safari-style lodge at the zoo, according to initial findings of the investigation.

CEO of Wow Safari Thiory, Christelle Bercheny, told AFP that the woman had "crossed the American reserve on foot", a place normally "only accessible by car".

Bercheny said that there were signs reminding people of the "rules of survival" to be followed in the park.

"The behaviour of the animals in the reserves is that of animals in freedom or semi-liberty," she added, referring to their reaction to the intrusion of a human.

Lodges in the wolf zone, advertised on its website at between 220 and 760 euros ($235-810) per night, promise "silence, rest and disconnection", according to the zoo's adverts.

They offer "a one-of-a-kind, very intimate experience with the arctic wolves you'll be able to see from the living room".

- Investigation underway -

The woman "ended up in the safari zone, which is supposed to be restricted to cars. That's where she was attacked by three wolves," Caillibotte said.

It was not clear "whether she made a mistake or the trail wasn't clearly marked", she added.

First responders got to the scene "very quickly", the wolves were "moved away, then returned to their area", Caillibotte said.

The source familiar with the case said earlier the woman must have got through "security systems, a trench and an electric fence supposed to keep the animals in".

Police are investigating the incident.

Thoiry zoo was founded in 1968 by Paul de la Panouse, owner of a local chateau that has been in his family since the 16th century.

He recalled to the regional newspaper L'Independant in April how he initially stocked the zoo with a ship loaded with 120 animals brought from Kenya.

De la Panouse sold the zoo to a group of investors in 2018.