'Criminal mischief' suspected as vulture dies, clouded leopard escapes through hole in Dallas Zoo fence

'Criminal mischief' suspected as vulture dies, clouded leopard escapes through hole in Dallas Zoo fence
Part of the Wilds of Africa habitat, the bird was discovered dead in its enclosure on Sunday (Dallas Zoo website, @Dallas Zoo/Twitter)

DALLAS, TEXAS: Police have been asked to investigate the death of an endangered vulture at Dallas Zoo as the zoo authorities are suspecting it to be a result of "criminal mischief." The incident comes after a clouded leopard escaped its own habitat through a "purposely cut" hole. 

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Part of the Wilds of Africa habitat, the bird was discovered dead in its enclosure on Sunday. The vulture's death is now being termed as "suspicious" by officials who found that another enclosure housing monkeys was also damaged.  

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A few hours later, the Dallas Police Department investigators discovered the leopard unhurt. They, however, labeled the opening as "suspicious." Following their unnerving discovery on Sunday, staff members immediately stated that an official police inquiry into the series of "unusual" incidences had been launched, Daily Mail reported. 

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The zoo officials released a statement about the endangered vulture, "The animal care team is heartbroken over this tremendous loss." They added, "given the recent incidents,' they had again enlisted the city's police force to aid in their probe." Officials declared further that the "circumstances" of the vulture's death had been "unusual" and did "not appear to be from natural causes." Announcing the investigation, they wrote, "Given the recent incidents at the zoo, we alerted the Dallas Police Department." 



 

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The officials added, "In the past week, we have placed additional cameras throughout the zoo and increased onsite security patrols during the overnight hours." It added, "We will continue to implement and expand our safety and security measures to whatever level necessary to keep our animals and staff safe."

Henry Villas Zoo reacted, "We are keeping you in our thoughts during this difficult time! Thank you for all the work you do for the animals in your care and for wildlife conservation." 

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The investigation followed a day-long search for a three-year-old 25-pound Nova, the clouded leopard, on Friday, January 13. The search operation resulted in the zoo's closure. The zoo resumed normal operations the next day until it was discovered that the enclosure housing a Langurus and a monkey had been similarly tampered with. "Fortunately, the hole was discovered before any of the animals could escape."  A police report that alleged the incident was a result of "criminal mischief" was filed soon after, the outlet mentioned. 

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The cause of the vulture's death, meanwhile, is currently unclear, with a necropsy scheduled to be performed in the coming days, a spokeswoman for the Dallas Police Department said on Sunday as per the outlet.  The police official added that the death was "being investigated as suspicious", but did not reveal if officers had gleaned any suspects.

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