Wolverine at Newark Airport Is an Uneasy Rider

Kasper the wolverine at the Kristiansand Zoo in Norway. Limo Taxi Car
Kasper the wolverine at the Kristiansand Zoo in Norway. Limo Taxi Car

If there were a manual for transporting wolverines, Rule No. 1 would probably go something like this: Make sure the wolverine cannot get out of the cage.

At Newark Liberty International Airport on Tuesday, it became clear that this precaution had not been taken.

A 40-pound male wolverine named Kasper was being shipped from a zoo in Norway to a conservation park in Alaska. At around 3:30 p.m., he arrived in Newark to change planes and go through United States Customs.

It was there that the animal’s handler, Sarah Howard, noticed there was a hole in Kasper’s cage.

“His head was sticking out,” said Ms. Howard, a curator for the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center, the wolverine’s intended new home. She had flown to Newark to meet him.

The cage was made of metal, said Joseph Pentangelo, a spokesman for the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which runs the airport. “It’s believed he chewed a hole in it.”

Wolverines, which look kind of like small bears but are actually the largest members of the weasel family, are legendarily vicious. With long, sharp teeth, they have been known to kill animals many times their size, including caribou and white-tailed deer.

Kasper remained in his cage, but Ms. Howard was alarmed.

“She said it was growling and stuff like that, but maybe they do that all the time, walk around and make noise,” Mike Miller, executive director of the conservation center, said.

A wildlife officer and a Port Authority police officer were summoned to Terminal C.

The cage was carefully placed in a transport van, Mr. Pentangelo said, “just to add another level of security, so that the wolverine wasn’t a threat to himself or the public.”

A new, uncompromised cage was procured from the Bronx Zoo, as was a wild animal veterinarian. The cages were put face to face and Kasper was encouraged to walk into the new one.

“He balked,” Mr. Pentangelo said. “He did not want to go. He made it very clear.”

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