An endangered vulture has been found dead Saturday at the Dallas Zoo with an “unusual wound,” facility officials said, marking the third suspicious incident there in the last two weeks.
Pin, an adult lappet-faced vulture, died over the weekend while inside its enclosure at Texas’ largest zoo, faculty there said.
“The circumstances of the death are unusual, and the death does not appear to be from natural causes,” the zoo posted on Twitter Monday.
The zoo said that in the past 10 days, it had increased security measures, including limiting access to outdoor enclosures and adding cameras and overnight guards.
On Tuesday, Dallas police told USA TODAY they are investigating whether the death is related to prior incidents involving monkeys and a snow leopard.
Here’s what we know so far:
On Jan. 13, a 4-year-old missing clouded leopard named Nova caused the zoo to shut down before the zoo said she was found on its grounds and safely secured.
Caretakers noticed the leopard was missing from her habitat, also noting a tear in the mesh of the enclosure that morning, Harrison Edell, executive vice president of animal care and conservation. Nova’s sister, Luna, was there and the staff was under the assumption the animal escaped.
But Nova was found on the zoo’s grounds that same day at about 4:40 p.m.
On Jan. 14, the day after Nova escaped, zoo officials said they found an incision in her wire mesh enclosure. The Dallas Police Department then opened a criminal probe, and zoo staffers showed investigators a similar intentional cut on the enclosure that houses langur monkeys, the police department confirmed to USA TODAY on Tuesday.
No monkeys escaped, none of the animals were harmed and a criminal mischief report was filed, police said.
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Pin, a 35-year-old vulture, was found dead Saturday morning in the facility’s “Wilds of Africa” habitat, the zoo and police reported.
A veterinary team trying to determine its cause of death found “an unusual wound and injuries, which pointed to this not being a natural death,” the zoo said.
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In a statement on Twitter, the zoo said its animal care team was heartbroken over the death of the animal, which spent much of its life at the facility and sired 11 chicks.
$10,000 reward for information
Dallas police told USA TODAY the department is investigating all three incidents to determine whether they are related.
“The bird’s cause of death has not been determined at this time, but the death is being investigated as suspicious,” the department said.
With help from animal cruelty officials, detectives have been conducting interviews, police said.
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is also investigating, police said.
In a statement released this week, the zoo said it plans to offer a $10,000 reward for information leading to an arrest and indictment in the vulture case.
“We want everyone to know how seriously we take the safety and security of our animals, our staff, and our campus as a whole,” the zoo said.
Anyone with information is asked to contact Dallas Police Department’s Animal Cruelty unit.
Natalie Neysa Alund covers trending news for USA TODAY. Reach her at email@example.com and follow her on Twitter @nataliealund.
Story Credit: usatoday.com