American flamingos - Photo by AjiltaW/Shutterstock.com
A wild fox killed 25 American flamingos at the Smithsonian National Zoo overnight Sunday. One Northern pintail duck was also a victim of the attack.
When zoo staff arrived at the Zoo’s Bird House early Monday morning, they discovered what happened and spotted a fox in the outdoor flamingo yards. The fox escaped, and the surviving flamingos of the original 74 that called the habitat home were ushered to an indoor portion of the zoo. The ducks were taken to a covered, secure outdoor space, according to a release from the zoo.
WILD FOX 🦊 KILLS 25 FLAMINGOS 🦩 AT THE NATIONAL ZOO: The fox got through a hole the size of a baseball in the heavy-duty mesh. 3 other flamingos are being treated by a vet and a duck was discovered dead too.— Sierra Fox (@thesierrafox) May 4, 2022
FULL REPORT HERE ➖ https://t.co/vlBEEfqsac pic.twitter.com/Pwn5SjD7Vz
Fox Kills 25 Flamingos at Smithsonian’s National Zoo
The zoo said that nothing of concern was noticed when the facility was last inspected Sunday afternoon as part of its regular safety procedures. But Monday morning, a new softball-sized hole in the metal mesh around the outdoor enclosure was found. In response, the metal mesh has been reinforced, traps have been set to catch any interested predators, and cameras have been established to monitor overnight, the zoo reported.
Red fox hunting and stalking prey - Photo by JackieConnelly-Fornuff/Shutterstock.com
“This is a heartbreaking loss for us and everyone who cares about our animals,” Brandie Smith, the director of the Smithsonian’s National Zoo & Conservation Biology Institute, said in a statement. “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.”
This is the first-ever time a predator has broken into the Bird House habitat, which has been at the zoo since the 1970s.
The zoo told USA Today on Tuesday afternoon that the fox responsible for the flamingo attack has not been seen since.
This was the worst attack in 20 years at the Zoo. In 2002 and 2003, fox attacks led to the deaths of many ducks, a peacock, and a bald eagle. Security was improved after those incidents, and nothing had happened since until Sunday.