WASHINGTON - Smithsonian National Zoo officials say 25 American flamingos and a pintail duck were killed by a wild fox that entered the Zoo's outdoor flamingo habitat Monday.
Staff members reported finding a "softball-sized hole" in the heavy-duty metal mesh that surrounds the outdoor yard. Officials say in additional to the flamingos killed, three were injured and are being treated at the Zoo's veterinary hospital.
National Zoo flamingo habitat (Smithsonian’s National Zoo)
"This is a heartbreaking loss for us and everyone who cares about our animals," said the National Zoo's Brandie Smith. "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."
Officials say there was no breach to the dig barrier in the outdoor exhibit and say the metal mesh surrounding the yard has been reinforced.
The Zoo also says live traps have been set around the outdoor yard to catch any predators and digital camera traps have been set up to photograph overnight activity.
The flamingo exhibit has been at the Zoo since the 1970s. The incident remains under investigation.