“His head was sticking out,” Sarah Howard, the animal's handler, told the New York Times.
The wolverine, named Kasper by staff at Kristiansand zoo, was in transit to a wildlife centre in Alaska when Howard spotted that he had managed to chew through his metal cage.
“It’s believed he chewed a hole in it,” Joseph Pentangelo, a spokesman for the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, confirmed.
European Wolverines are known for their enormously strong jaws which can crush through the frozen meat they find stored for the winter by other animals, and even through bones.
After his escape was noticed, the 18kg animal refused to be moved to a new cage and had to be tranquilised with ketamine before continuing his trip to Alaska.
Rolf Arne Ølberg, a vet at Kristiansand Zoo, said that the US press had exaggerated the danger. The tabloid New York Post headlined their story "Psycho-killer wolverine almost escapes".
“He is a kind wolverine," Ølberg told Norwegian broadcaster NRK. ”I have spoken to the animal handlers at the airport in New York. Everything was under control. The wolverine was in good condition when it left us, and it still is.”
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”We have also sent wolverines to Canada and France. They managed the trips without drama," Ølberg continued. "We are considering whether to use cages made completely of metal in the future.”
A good life awaits Kasper at the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center that is set on nearly 70 hectares of land in the mountains were he will have plenty of room to roam. He will soon be joined by a female wolverine from Sweden.