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Wild fox breaks into DC’s National Zoo, kills 25 flamingos

A fox runs through a garden in Berlin
Associated Press/Markus Schreiber
A fox runs through the garden of the chancellery in Berlin on Oct. 11, 2012.

The Smithsonian National Zoo in Washington, D.C., said Tuesday that a wild fox had broken into its premises and killed 25 flamingos and a duck on Monday.

The zoo said that it was “devastated and mourning the loss of 25 American flamingos and one Northern pintail duck” and added that staff undertake “exhibit-integrity inspections” on multiple occasions throughout the day. 

The statement said that zoo staff discovered the deceased flamingos on Tuesday morning and added that staff saw the fox, which escaped the flamingo enclosure.

The flamingo flock originally had 74 flamingos, and the survivors have been moved indoors and the ducks relocated to a “covered, secure outdoor space.”

The Smithsonian added this is the first time a predator has breached the flamingo enclosure, which has been a feature at the zoo since the 1970s. 

The Smithsonian noted that while the American Flamingo and the Northern pintail duck are listed as “species of least concern” by the International Union for Conservation of Nature Red List of Threatened Species, it is now focusing on the “well-being” of the remaining group.

“This is a heartbreaking loss for us and everyone who cares about our animals,” said Brandie Smith, a director of the Smithsonian’s National Zoo and Conservation Biology Institute.

“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,” the statement added.

The zoo has also put in place security measures like installing digital camera traps with an infrared sensor that is triggered by movement to monitor overnight activity. It has also set up live traps to capture any “predators” in its outdoor spaces.

Tags flamingos fox National Zoo predator Smithsonian

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