An earlier version of the story incorrectly said National Zoo staffers caught and euthanized the fox that had killed 25 flamingos there earlier this month. Zoo officials say they cannot confirm whether the fox they caught is the one that killed the flamingos. The story has been updated.
She said she could not confirm that this fox was involved in last week’s killing of the flamingos at the zoo’s outdoor enclosure of the bird house. She said that she did not know whether the captured fox was male or female and that it was “humanely euthanized.”
Baker-Masson also did not know whether the fox had been tested for rabies and said that because “birds don’t contract rabies ... that wasn’t a primary issue” in the case.
The zoo’s fox troubles started May 2 when a fox got into the flamingos’ enclosure overnight from nearby Rock Creek Park.
Officials at the zoo said a staffer who helps run the bird house, where the zoo’s flock of 74 flamingos live, saw the fox in their yard area and found the dead birds. The fox got away, and the zoo set a trap to try to catch it.
The zoo’s director, Brandie Smith, had called the scene that the staffer found “awful” but said it was also “normal fox behavior,” noting that foxes are predators.
The fox probably got through a hole, zoo officials said, about the size of a baseball, in the heavy mesh fencing around the flamingo’s habitat. A Northern pintail duck was also killed by the fox, and three other flamingos were hurt and were treated at the zoo’s veterinary hospital.
The remaining flamingos were moved indoors to their barn and the ducks to a covered, secure outdoor space.
Smith said in a statement that the flamingos’ being killed by the fox was “a heartbreaking loss for us and everyone who cares about our animals.”
In the wild, flamingos can fly away from danger, but the zoo’s flamingos had their wings clipped and were probably unable to defend themselves against the fox, zoo officials said.
The city’s wildlife biologist, Dan Rauch, had said a flamingo to a fox is “like a chicken with longer legs and a different color.” The fox, he said, was probably just attracted to the flamingos because they’re “just a taller bird for them, and they’re an enclosed food source.”