WASHINGTON (WDVM) — The flamingo flock in the Smithsonian National Zoo suffered casualties after a fox attacked them, killing 25 and injuring three, officials said. One Northern pintail duck was also killed.
Staff found the dead flamingos early in the morning on Tuesday and saw the fox, who escaped, in the outdoor flamingo yards. The surviving flamingos were moved into a barn, and the ducks were moved to a “covered, secure outdoor space.”
“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,” Brandie Smith, John and Adrienne Mars Director, Smithsonian’s National Zoo and Conservation Biology Institute, said in a release.
The statement said that staff had last inspected the outdoor yards on Monday at 2:30 p.m. This inspection did not find any areas of concern, but a new inspection Tuesday morning found a “new softball-sized hole” in the mesh around the yard. This mesh was last replaced in 2017.
They said that the mesh around the yard has been reinforced and live traps and digital camera traps have been set around the yard.
The flock previously had 74 birds and has been at the Zoo since the ’70s. The Bird House has been closed to the public due to major renovation. According to the Smithsonian, the median lifespan, but their ‘matriarch’ — who passed away in February of this year — lived until 67.