Jogger attacked by wolves in French zoo’s safari zone: what is known?

The woman, 37, is said to be in a severe but-stable condition in hospital. It is not clear why she was in the car-only area

The woman was injured by three wolves in a vehicle-only area of the Thoiry park
Published Last updated

A woman is in hospital with severe injuries after being attacked by wolves while on a jog at the Thoiry safari park in northern France this weekend.

The 37-year-old was jogging on Sunday, June 23 when she entered an area of the park in Thoiry (Yvelines, Ile-de-France) that was forbidden to pedestrians. She received life-threatening injuries in an attack by three wolves. She was rescued by zookeepers after they heard her screams.

She was taken to hospital in a critical state, but her condition has now stabilised and is no longer life-threatening, said the Versailles prosecutor.

What happened?

Early reports so far say that the woman, who is from Paris, had been staying overnight with her family (her mother, and baby) in one of the zoo’s accommodation rooms. 

She went for a jog at around 09:00, and accidentally found herself in one of the vehicle-only areas of the zoo - a seven-hectare area dubbed the ‘Réserve Americaine’ - that is home to wolves, bears, and bison. 

She was then attacked by three grey ‘Mackenzie’ wolves, and bitten on her neck, calves, and back.

These areas have signs that say that only vehicles can enter, and recommend that drivers go slowly through the park with their car windows closed. 

However, it is not yet clear which signs or fences - if any - the woman may have seen or missed as she went for her jog.

Incident inquiry opened

The park is now investigating the incident, including questioning the zookeepers who rescued the woman. The rest of the park’s personnel will also be questioned, as will the woman herself as soon as she is well enough.

The Versailles prosecutor has also opened an inquiry into ‘involuntary injury’ and passed the case to the research team in Mantes-la-Jolie. 

Inquiries are focusing on whether the vehicle-only area of the park is sufficiently signposted, and if the woman was at fault alone, or if the fault should be shared.

‘There are constant reminders’

Christelle Bercheny, president of Wow Safari Thoiry, has told Le Parisien: "We are currently analysing all the circumstances that may have led to this accident.”

She added: “Customers have all the information they need [about the dangers]...They have a map, guides to keep them informed, and there are constant reminders.”

Access to the area is also protected by an electrified platform to prevent animals from crossing, she said, although these platforms “do not work on humans”, she said. 

She added that so far there were “no signs” pointing to human or technical error at the park. She also said that animals kept there behave in the same way as animals would in the wild, or “semi-wild”.

One visitor to the park later that day told Le Parisien: “The security signs are clear; you know you’re entering an area of the zoo that has dangerous animals.” Another said: “I don’t really see how you could even get in on foot, to be honest.”

Prosecutor calls for ‘caution’

The Versailles prosecutor urged “caution” around speculation about the incident, and said investigations were ongoing.

“I am not currently in a position to say whether it was she who made the mistake or whether the markings were incorrect,” the prosecutor told the AFP, acknowledging that the woman had been rescued very quickly by zookeepers at the time.