The Wolf of Cleveland Park

“This is pretty scary. The crazy headline in The Washington Post on October 19th, 1902 was the cryptic and terrifying “Mad Wolf From Zoo.” Below is the account of multiple attacks in Cleveland Park.” The Ghosts of DC, 2013


Wolf Escapes From Zoo, Terrorizing Cleveland Park

Residents of Cleveland Park and vicinity were given a good deal of a fright yesterday forenoon by the appearance of a wolf which had escaped from the Zoological Park some time during the early hours in the morning. In its wanderings the animal attacked and badly bit two small children, besides several dogs, before it was shot and killed by a pursuing party.

The wolf, which was a ferocious brown beast, first made its appearance at the home of George Jackson, a colored man, who lives in a small white house on the outskirts of Rock Creek Park, near the Klingle Ford road. Mrs. Jackson, who was engaged in her household duties, was first attracted by the screams of her children, and rushed to the door to see one of them, a tot of three years, on the ground beneath what she supposed to be a savage dog. The wolf’s teeth were buried in the back of the child’s head. A sister, about seven years old, attempted to drag the child away, and was herself badly bitten on the hand.

The mother, in her terror, rushed at the animal, grabbing it by the hair, hurried it, with a strength born of her frenzy, through the open door of a chicken coop and slammed the door to, and then turned to the child, which was lying bleeding on the ground.

In the meantime the now thoroughly aroused wolf jumped through the wire netting covering the window of the coop and bounded down the hillside and disappeared, taking the road that leads under the Klingle bridge.

This was about 9:30 o’clock. At 10 o’clock the occupants of the residence of Mr. G. H. Powell, in Cleveland Park were startled by the wild yelping of a bull terrier pup which was chained in the rear of the house. The house stands on a side hill, a stone wall about twenty feet high supporting the building in the rear, and the wolf, now that his taste for blood was aroused, had evidently climbed the hill near this wall and gone to the rear of the house. The servant rushed out of the kitchen at the sound of the dog’s cries only to see the pup down with the wolf at his throat. Thinking the intruder was a mongrel, her first impulse was to throw scalding water on it, but fearing this would delay her, she grabbed a long clothes prop and beat the wolf over the head. Under the rain of blows the wolf finally released the dog and ran around to the front of the house.

The beast still showing a disposition to fight, Mr. Bowles hurried to the house and procured a revolver with which he fired at the beast, wounding it in the hip sufficiently to allow him to approach close enough to throw a rope about its neck. The keepers finally caught up with the wounded beast about 2:30 in the afternoon and took it back to the Zoological park, where it was shot, according to a report from the Zoo last night.

Fortunately for the residents of the vicinity in which the animal roamed for more than eight hours, but few of them realized that they were encountering anything but a particularly ferocious dog, or they would have been less likely to have so courageously attacked the beast, and the result would probably have been a long list of casualties.

As it is, the many women residents, the majority of whose husbands are away during the day, are working themselves into a nervous frenzy over the possibility of the escape of other and probably more savage animals.

An attempt has been made on the part of the Zoo authorities to minimize the damage done in this case by trying to convince the family of George Jackson that his children were attacked by some strange dog, but the sequence of events followed by the shooting of the wolf hardly make this possible.

At a late hour last night the children who were bitten were progressing favorably, though the younger was suffering considerable pain.

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