A rare and endangered vulture has died an “unusual” death in its enclosure over the weekend in what police and zoo officials say “does not appear to be from natural causes.”
The death comes just days after a clouded leopard managed to escape from a hole in the netting that surrounded its enclosure that police say was deliberately cut by someone.
“This weekend, our staff found that one of the endangered vultures in our Wilds of Africa habitats had died,” the Dallas Zoo said in a statement posted to social media. “The circumstances of the death are unusual, and the death does not appear to be from natural causes.”
The zoo said that, given other suspicious incidents that have occurred, they alerted the Dallas Police Department who are now looking into the circumstances surrounding the dubious death of the beloved vulture.
“We cannot share many details until Dallas PD has had more time to look into this matter,” the zoo said in their statement.
The Dallas Zoo also confirmed that they have increased their security measures in the aftermath of the vulture’s death and the leopard’s escape.
“In the past week, we have added additional cameras throughout the Zoo and increased onsite security patrols during the overnight hours,” the statement from the zoo read. “We will continue to implement and expand our safety and security measures to whatever level necessary to keep our animals and staff safe.”
The first suspicious incident involving the clouded leopard happened on Jan. 13. While the Dallas Zoo was eventually able to recover the clouded leopard, officials had to shut down the zoo and an investigation into that incident -- which police are calling “an intentional act” -- is ongoing.
It is currently unclear if the two events are linked and officials did not elaborate on what made the vulture’s death “unusual” other than to say it did not appear to be from natural causes and that an autopsy will be performed on the bird.
“The animal care team is heartbroken over this tremendous loss,” said the Dallas Zoo following the announcement of the vulture’s death. “Please keep them in your thoughts as they process what has happened.”
Investigations into both of the incidents are ongoing.