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Dallas Zoo 'Heartbroken' Over Latest Suspicious Incident

Endangered vulture found dead just days after enclosures slashed around 2 other habitats
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 24, 2023 6:26 AM CST
Dallas Zoo 'Heartbroken' Over Latest Suspicious Incident
A police vehicle sits at an entrance at the Dallas Zoo on Jan. 13.   (Shakfat Anowar/The Dallas Morning News via AP)

Police and Dallas Zoo officials haven't yet solved the mystery of who cut through the fencing of a clouded leopard enclosure, as well as the fencing around a monkey habitat. Now, a more tragic and equally suspicious development: A rare, endangered bird of prey has died, in what the zoo is calling an "unusual" death. NBC News reports that Pin, a 35-year-old lappet-faced vulture that's one of just 6,500 worldwide, was found dead Saturday morning in the zoo's "Wilds of Africa" exhibit. "The death does not appear to be from natural causes," the zoo notes, adding that "given the recent incidents at the Zoo, we alerted the Dallas Police Department."

Those other recent incidents include the escape of Nova, a 3-year-old clouded leopard who broke out of her habitat on Jan. 13 and was found later that same day. She was returned to her enclosure, where it was discovered the wire mesh fencing had been slashed. The police were called, and investigators found that an enclosure for the zoo's langur monkeys had also been cut; both were believed to be intentional. In that case, however, none of the monkeys escaped or were harmed. This time around, no such luck, and the zoo's animal care team is said to be "heartbroken" over the death of Pin, who sired 11 chicks during his time at the zoo, which KERA notes spanned 33 years.

Two male lappet-faced vultures remain, along with one female. The zoo—which says it has added extra cameras around its facilities, as well as patrols at night—is offering a $10,000 reward for information leading to an arrest and indictment. Investigations into all three incidents are ongoing; police haven't definitively ruled that the latest incident is linked to the earlier two. Officials say those responsible could face felony charges of animal cruelty. Zoo officials say a necropsy will be performed on the vulture. (More zoo stories.)

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