Now, former fans of the zoo are up in arms about the treatment of Rebel, with many pointing out that the wolf was just acting naturally and should never have been in captivity in the first place.
"I don't understand why this wild animal had to suffer for what idiotic humans did," one person wrote on the zoo's Facebook page. "Parents should have been punished for allowing their child into a NON-PUBLIC area."
"Why would a zoo educate children that it's OK to murder a wild animal who doesn't even belong behind bars?" another person asked.
Wilhelm said that while rabies vaccines are unpleasant, they only last a few seconds. To avoid that temporary discomfort, he explained, "a life was ended that didn't need to be ended."
People have questioned whether Wisconsin's public officials handled the situation appropriately, considering they immediately placed killing Rebel on the table. But unfortunately, Rebel's death is just the latest in a string of tragic decisions backed by questionable wildlife policies.