The birds are “American flamingos”. best famous for their pink color and standing on one leg. The zoo said it was a northern pintail duck. also was killed by a fox, and three other flamingos were injured and treated at the zoo’s veterinary hospital.
Brandi Smith, director of National Zoo, said the scene of death, found by a staff member around 6:20 am, was “terrible”. Smith said the incident likely “occurred in night hours when foxes are at their most active”.
She said the workers found a hole that has been “chewed in net and released the fox in and out”. Smith said it was “a common fox”. behavior”, noting that foxes are predators and that she has no fear that the fox has rabies. Officials said they tried capture a fox in live traps, but there were none.
“Were still in shock right now,” Smith said.
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In the wild, flamingos can fly away from danger, but the flamingos at the zoo had their wings clipped and they probably couldn’t defend themselves. against fox, zoo officials said.
“It’s a heartbreaking loss for us and each who takes care of our animals,” Smith said. in statement.
Dan Rauch, city wildlife biologist, said flamingos to foxes are “like hen with longer legs and a different color.” Fox, he said, probably attracted flamingos because they “just taller bird for them, and they are a closed source of food.”
“Turkeys in wild may move “Away from the predator,” Rauch said, “and the ducks too. But these guys kind of stuck.”
Rest of The flock of flamingos were moved inside, to a barn, while the ducks were taken to a “covered, safe outdoor location,” officials said. space”. zoo bird house was closed for public because it passes renovation.
Flamingo kills celebrate first the time their exhibit had a “predator mesh break” since it was set up in 1970s, but the fox was not first zoo intruder. In 2002, the zoo lost several ducks and other birds that were in more- open areas of campus, after the predators came in from Rock Creek Park. next year the bald eagle was killed by an unidentified predator that dug under the fence.
Smith said barrier in flamingo habitat has an “excavation barrier” around it, and that heavy mesh around yard “passed the test” and was not problem in in past. A similar net is used in other accredited zoos around the country, she said.
But “foxes are persistent, especially when feeding kittens,” as they are now. of in yearRauch said. “They will raid the same location some times night, he said. “They are survivors and can chew through nylon or mesh. They can also jump that makes flamingos vulnerable, regardless of of their height.
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Officials said there is regular personnel checks and checks of exhibits for animals several times day. last inspection of open yards around the bird house was done around 2:30 pm on a Sunday. During this inspection, officials stated that “no areas of concerns have been observed in flamingo habitats.”
But in examination on Monday morning, several problems we found including new hole in net.
The zoo said no. know exactly how the hole was made and investigate the incident. They have since reinforced the fence. Crews also set up traps in in area in if the fox comes back and added hotline, which give the predator will get a slight shock if it tries climb This is.
The fence was last replaced in 2017 and passed the accreditation inspection of the Association of Zoos and aquariums, according to zoo officials. Smith said the crews work on “strengthening our habitat”.
Live traps have also was set up around the bird house to attempt “catch any predators,” officials said. Zoo officials said also set up digital-camera traps, with infrared sensors that triggered by motion to photograph night activity.
Last month a mother the fox and her three kittens were euthanized after several incidents on US Capitol grounds in on which an adult fox attacked or bit passers-by. mother fox tested positive for rabies.
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The American flamingo and northern pintail are species of “least concern”, according to the International Union for Preservation of Red List of Nature of threatened species. Flamingo found in wild in Caribbean and along the north coast of South America and usually live from 40 to 60 years old.
There are between 80,000 and 90,000 flamingos in America. in wild, but face loss of their habitat because of “Mining and human interference,” zoo officials said.
Smith said her staff were “incredible” and “got to work immediately”. recovery mode” to protect the rest of flamingos and other 17 ducks.
“We did everything right, but this fox in”, – said Smith. “Our task now is to sure it doesn’t happen again”.