Smithsonian’s National Zoo and Conservation Biology Institute
A wild fox broke into the Smithsonian’s National Zoo’s outdoor flamingo habitat overnight, killing 25 American flamingos and a northern pintail duck, the zoo announced.
Three other flamingos were injured and are currently being treated at the zoo’s veterinary hospital. The flock originally included 74 flamingos.
Staff arrived at the outdoor flamingo habitat early Monday morning to find the dead birds. Staff said they saw the fox, but it got away.
“This is a heartbreaking loss for us and for everyone who cares about our animals,” said Brandie Smith, director of the Smithsonian’s National Zoo and Conservation Biology Institute. “The barrier we use has passed inspection and is used by other accredited zoos across the country. Our focus is now on the welfare of the remaining flock and strengthening our habitats.”
Staff regularly check out the outdoor exhibit several times a day. During the last check on Sunday at 2:30 p.m., everything was fine, according to the zoo.
But after the incident, zoo staff found a new, baseball-sized hole in the chain-link fence surrounding the yard. Since then, the fence has been reinforced, live traps have been placed around the outdoor patio, and digital camera traps with infrared sensors have been installed to prevent future attacks.
The remaining flamingos moved inside their barn and the ducks moved to a covered and secure outdoor space.