WHAT’S BEING CLAIMED:
- A wild fox broke into an outdoor flamingo habitat at the Smithsonian’s National Zoo in Washington D.C. on Monday.
- The fox killed 25 American flamingos and one Northern pintail duck.
- According to the zoo, it is the first time a wild predator has broken into the mesh exhibit since it was built in the 1970s.
Officials for the Smithsonian’s National Zoo in Washington D.C. say a fox is responsible for killing 25 American flamingos and one Northern pintail duck at the zoo after staff found the dead animals early Monday morning.
Staff at the zoo’s Bird House, which is currently closed to the public due to renovations, arrived on Monday and found the deceased flamingos in the flamingo habitat. The zoo was home to a flock of 74 American flamingos, according to a news release.
Staff noticed a fox around the flamingo yards, but it soon escaped the zoo grounds. Initial investigation of the incident found a “softball-sized hole” in the metal mesh fence that surrounds the yard. The last time the space was inspected was on Sunday at 2:30 p.m. local time with “no areas of concern.”
Three other flamingos were also injured, and they are being treated at the zoo’s veterinary hospital.
“This is a heartbreaking loss for us and everyone who cares about our animals,” Brandie Smith, director of the Smithsonian’s National Zoo and Conservation Biology Institute, said in a statement. “The barrier we used passed inspection and is used by other accredited zoos across the country. Our focus now is on the well-being of the remaining flock and fortifying our habitats.”
Officials said this is the first time a predator has breached the exhibit since it was installed in the 1970s. The metal mesh has since been replaced, and live traps have been set up around the exhibit. Cameras with infrared sensors triggered by movement have also been placed to capture any overnight activity.
The remaining flamingos were moved indoors to their barn, while the ducks were put in a “covered, secure outdoor space.”
The zoo told USA TODAY on Tuesday afternoon the fox hasn’t been spotted since the incident.
The attack comes after another fox was responsible for “9 confirmed bites on Capitol Hill” in April, including biting Rep. Ami Bera and a journalist at Politico. The fox was captured and euthanized, with testing confirming it had rabies.
Source: USA Today