The “suspicious” death of an endangered vulture inside a Dallas Zoo on Saturday has sparked a police investigation, following earlier reports of animal enclosures being sabotaged at the same location.
Zoo staffers found the vulture’s corpse inside its “Wilds of Africa” habitat, and said its death didn’t “appear to be from natural causes,” the Washington Post reported. The city police have initiated a probe into the matter. More details about the vulture or the circumstances surrounding its death weren’t immediately released.
The vulture’s death follows two other suspicious incidents just weeks earlier. On Jan. 13, a clouded leopard at the zoo, named Nova, escaped after someone cut a hole in the fencing around its enclosure in what police believe was an “intentional act.” The incident prompted a brief closure of the zoo, and the leopard was found later that night.
“The fence it escaped from was intentionally cut,” Dallas Police Sergeant Warren Mitchell had said at a news conference then.
As the investigation into the leopard’s escape was still on, a hole similar to that of Nova’s exhibit was found in a cage that housed a type of monkey named Langurs. Thankfully, none of the animals escaped the enclosure.
Both the incidents back then were under investigation and the police didn’t specify if they were connected. This time also, the zoo authorities alerted the local officials, CNN reported.
The exact cause of the bird’s death was pending a necropsy, the Dallas Police Department said in a news release.
“The preliminary investigation determined the bird was found dead in its enclosure,” Melinda Gutierrez, a spokesperson for the Dallas police, told the Washington Post. “The cause of death has not been determined at this time, but the death is being investigated as suspicious. A necropsy will be conducted on the bird.”
“The animal care team is heartbroken over this tremendous loss,” the zoo said in a statement, as per CNN. “The circumstances of the death are unusual, and the death does not appear to be from natural causes.”
The property is now placed under tighter security with additional cameras and an increased number of overnight patrols, CBS News reported.
“We will continue to implement and expand our safety and security measures to whatever level necessary to keep our animals and staff safe,” the zoo said in a news release, according to CNN.