“I reacted with disbelief, and the first few seconds afterwards were pretty unreal,” Heinz Strathmann, the chief executive of Polar Park zoo, north of the town of Narvik.
“I think this is very sad, and it’s not OK. We had five elks, now we have only three.”
The hunters themselves rang the zoo to inform them of what had happened, explaining that their elk hounds had managed to get inside the elks enclosure, and then given chase, preventing the hunters from realising that they were shooting into a zoo.
Arne Nysted, chairman of the wildlife tribunal in Troms County, said that there was no need to punish the men.
“This is a regrettable mistake made in connection with lawful hunting on the outside of the park,” he said. “It was a fatal error, but everyone understands that it was not done at all on purpose.”
Katrine Grimnes from the police in the nearby town of Målselv said police would not comment on the shootings until the hunter had been properly interviewed.
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“We’ve have spoken to the hunting party, been out and stood at the place which he shot from, and formed a picture of what he would have seen and what the area looks like. We do not want to comment further until we have questioned the hunter himself,” she said.
Polar Park intends to demand compensation for the two elk, and have already begun searching for replacements.