Over the weekend a wild fox broke into the Smithsonian’s National Zoo outdoor flamingo habitat overnight, killing 25 American flamingos and one northern pintail duck.
The broke out on Monday morning leaving Staff at the Smithsonian’s National Zoo and Conservation Biology Institute’s Bird House devastated.
The zoo said in a news release that they discovered the dead birds and spotted the fox in the outdoor flamingo yards after arriving early Monday morning. Three other flamingos were injured and were receiving treatment.
There were 74 flamingos in the zoo’s flock before Monday, officials said. The remaining flamingos were moved indoors to their barn and the ducks to a covered, secure outdoor space.
Here’s what Brandie Smith, John and Adrienne Mars Director, Smithsonian’s National Zoo and Conservation Biology Institute said in a statement:
“This is a heartbreaking loss for us and everyone who cares about our animals. 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 outdoor exhibit is regularly checked multiple times a day by staff. During the last check on Sunday at 2:30 p.m., everything was fine, according to the zoo.
An inspection following the incident revealed a new softball-sized hole in the heavy-duty metal mesh that surrounds the outdoor yard.
In response, the zoo has taken multiple actions including reinforcing metal mesh surrounding the yard, setting live traps to catch predators in the outdoor yard, and adding digital cameras with infrared sensors that are triggered by a movement to record overnight activity.
The zoo is actively investigating the incident.
The American flamingo and Northern pintail duck are both listed as species of least concern on the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Red List of Threatened Species.
Watch it here: Smithsonians/Youtube