Was that a coyote? Or just a fox? That was one of the questions that Crestwood residents discussed Monday on a listserv after one reported having seen a coyote — or was it a fox? — cross a local residential road in the Northwest neighborhood that is bounded by 16th Street NW and Rock Creek Park.
In the end, they seemed to agree that it was a coyote, and that, yes, coyotes have been spotted in the park before — as far back as 2004. (Don’t worry, they tend to avoid humans. But don’t try to feed them either way.) That got us to thinking: What other wild animals have been reported to inhabit or make their way into our fair city?
White-tailed deer: If you haven’t seen white-tailed deer in Rock Creek Park, you’re not looking very hard. There are so many, in fact, that the National Park Service has proposed using sharp-shooters to trim down on the population.
Foxes: Both white and red foxes have been spotted in Rock Creek and the neighborhoods around it. One Crestwood resident reported having a fox den in her backyard during Monday’s discussion.
Mountain lion: There were a number of mountain lion sightings in Northwest last year, but one was never caught. According to NBC4, the Washington Humane Society had a somewhat disturbing theory as to how this may have happened: “A spokesperson for the Washington Humane Society said someone may have been keeping the cat as a pet and then released it once they couldn’t take care of it anymore.” As we’ve reported in the past, that would be very, very illegal in the District.
Black bear: In 2010, NBC4 got footage of a black bear along Connecticut Avenue. Even more adorably, though, the bear seemed to have two friends: “A bear was caught on security camera at an apartment building in the 4800 block of Connecticut Avenue NW at about 6:45 a.m. Friday. The bear and two deer were eating.”
Clouded leopard: In what may have been the most exciting potential escape ever from the National Zoo, a clouded leopard made its way out of its enclosure in 2006. The zoo was quickly shut down, but the clouded leopard didn’t seem too ambitious in trying to make it to freedom — it was caught napping outside the enclosure. (In 1983 a magpie got loose, but was caught in Virginia a few days later.)
Whale: OK, so it didn’t make it that close to D.C., but a one was found down the Potomac along the Virginia shoreline in December 1994.
Loof lirpa: Back in 2008, neighbors of the National Zoo were shocked to hear that a loof lirpa had escaped. The 350-pound beast — with antlers! — had run off north on Connecticut Avenue, and according to police even stopped at Macgruders for some vegetable snacks. Pretty crazy, right? Sure — but not true. The loof lirpa was a joke played by the zoo and police on unwitting neighbors for April Fool’s Day. No such animal exists — and the name they chose is April Fool written backwards.
Zebras: This is a little further asunder, but last year Leesburg residents reported zebras wandering by Route 15. They had escaped from a nearby petting zoo, it seems.