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A wolf

A wolf

Photo: Léon Bertrand, 1854

Escaped Wolves on the Loose at Kidlington

28 April 2021 (Updated 2 September 2021)

In the 1930s, Kidlington was briefly home to the Oxford Zoo. Although it was only open for a short six years, the zoo had an impressive range of animals including three wolves, who made a spectacular escape attempt on 25 January 1936.

The three large Russian wolves managed to chew through the reinforced mesh of their cage, and the three set off in different directions. One headed north and was found attacking sheep around Hampton Poyle, where it was shot by the son of a local farmer.

Another headed south and made it to a garden on Oxford's northern bypass road before it was shot by police.

The final wolf managed to evade capture for three days, during which it killed thirteen sheep. It was finally spotted swimming across the Oxford canal on the 28th January, from where it was tracked to the grounds of Harefield House in Summertown.

Despite the large numbers of police and zookeepers tracking the animal, it was finally shot by a photographer from the Oxford Mail!

The zoo closed its doors a year later in 1937, and most of the animals were moved to Dudley Zoo. It's not clear whether the negative publicity surrounding the escaped wolves was responsible for the zoo's closure. Today the site on which the zoo stood is home to the headquarters of Thames Valley Police.


  1. Escaped wolves cause panic on the streets (oxfordmail.co.uk)
  2. 'A Grim Almanac of Oxforshire' by Nicola Sly (The History Press, 2013, ISBN: 978752465814)