One afternoon in May of 1994 I received a call from a neighbor who was looking for people with ATV’s to help roundup a red wolf that had escaped from a local zoo. My son Evan and I took off on our 4-wheeler and went to our neighbors. The red wolf had been spotted close by and after twenty minutes it was shot with a tranquilizer gun. The medication failed and she seemed to run even faster. Eventually we got close to her and a neighbor bailed off his ATV and pinned her to the ground with his body. I took my belt and tied her legs together. We then waited for the zoo officials to get to the scene.
The following is the local newspapers take on the events.
May 15, 1994
Author: John O’Connor, Staff writer
State Journal-Register, The (Springfield, IL)
Swashbuckling volunteers cruising open fields in all-terrain vehicles popped off two tranquilizer darts Saturday to finally snag Scarlett, the Henson Robinson Zoo’s red wolf who has been on the loose since Monday.
Zoo officials and federal experts knocked the pregnant wolf down at 7:45 p.m. in a field near Lake Sanchrist, southeast of Springfield.
In the end, zoo director Mike Janis believes Scarlett wanted to come home.
“It was probably a rush to be free, but it was probably terrifying,” Janis said. “It had to be terrifying to be out there, exposed to cars and dogs and unfamiliar territory. I think she’s going to be very relieved, if that’s the right word, to be back” at the zoo.
At a holding pen at the zoo, Scarlett will be watched for 10 days to ensure she didn’t pick up parasites or hurt herself in any other way, Janis said.
“We want to cool her down a few days,” he said. “She’s been out theredoing work she isn’t used to and she needs a couple of days to settle down some.”
Scarlett, expected to give birth by week’s end, didn’t appear sick or injured. She was so healthy even two tranquilizer darts didn’t completely fell her.
Janis and zoo staff members learned Scarlett was in a resident’s yard at 5 p.m., eyeing guinea and peal fowl there. They arrived on the scene and followed the wolf for about an hour as they readied humane traps and tried to get close enough for a shot.
Unlike previous nights on her trail, she didn’t escape into any forested areas. Officials ringed her in two farmers’ fields.
“We had three all-terrain vehicles out there,” Janis said. “She broke, and we took off after here. Talon Thornton, the assistant zoo director, got the first dart into her, but she still ran a ways before we got the second shot into her.
“She never did go competely down,” he said. But the trackers threw a net over her, covered her face with a shirt and Thornton sacrificed his belt to hold her jaws while she was transferred to a mobile kennel.
Scarlett, who escaped briefly from previous homes — zoos in Victoria, Texas and Knoxville, Tenn. — will be separated from her mate, Blizter, for more than a week while she’s observed. Officials will test her waste material for parasites and await results of a blood test taken Saturday night.
They will watch for fever, that’s she’s drinking enough water and eating enough. Her diet for a week likely has been road kill.
“She’s an amazing animal and a real adversary,” Janis said. “She gave us all she was worth and we gave her all we were worth.”
Janis continued to praise the many people who called in with tips and sightings.
“I can’t thank the public enough,” Janis said. “It is unlikely just our group would have been able to find her without the calls from the public.”
Red wolf experts from the Tacoma, Wash. zoo and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, flown in to help find Scarlett, will leave town today, Janis said.
Copyright (c) 1994 The State Journal-Register (Springfield, IL)