A vulture died under ‘unusual’ circumstances at a US zoo about a week after a clouded leopard escaped

A white-backed vulture sits in his new aviary at Tierpark Berlin, on May 25, 2020. (Britta Pedersen/picture alliance/Getty Images)

  • The death of an endangered vulture at the Dallas Zoo is not believed to be from natural causes.
  • About a week prior, a clouded leopard at the zoo went missing for several hours before being found.
  • Police said a suspicious cut was made in the leopard enclosure, as well as that of some monkeys.
  • For more stories, go to www.BusinessInsider.co.za.

Police are investigating after a series of strange events at the Dallas Zoo.

First, a clouded leopard escaped from her encampment, which had a “suspicious” tear in it. Next, another cut was found in an enclosure containing langurs, a type of monkey native to Africa and Asia. Now, a vulture has died under what the zoo is calling “unusual” circumstances.

“This weekend, our staff found that one of the endangered vultures in our Wilds of Africa habitats had died. The animal care team is heartbroken over this tremendous loss,” the Dallas Zoo said in a statement on Saturday.

“The circumstances of the death are unusual, and the death does not appear to be from natural causes,” the statement continued, adding: “In the past week, we have added additional cameras throughout the Zoo and increased onsite security patrols during the overnight hours. 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 did not provide additional details about the vulture’s death but said it contacted the Dallas Police Department, which is investigating the matter. Dallas Police did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment.

The Dallas Zoo first made national headlines earlier this month when a female clouded leopard named Nova was not inside her habitat when staff arrived on the morning of January 13. The zoo said the leopard, which it described as not dangerous, weighed about 11 kg and was “bigger than a house cat and smaller than most bobcats.”

Nova was missing for several hours before she was located near her enclosure and quickly secured. The zoo said she had no signs of injury and quickly settled back into her usual routine.

Sgt Warren Mitchell, a public information officer for the Dallas Police said during a press conference held while Nova was missing that “after investigating, it is our belief that this was an intentional act.”

In a follow-up statement, police said they determined “a cutting tool was intentionally used to cut an opening in the fencing of the Clouded Leopard’s habitat.” They also said they were made aware of a “similar cut” made in the langurs’ enclosure, but that all of the monkeys were accounted for.

Police added the investigation was ongoing and that it was not yet clear if the cuts in the leopard enclosure and the langur enclosure were related.

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