Dallas Zoo has another suspicious animal death, this time a vulture
Another animal has died at the Dallas Zoo, this time a vulture, found dead under what the zoo called "unusual" circumstances in the Wilds of Africa habitat.
UPDATE 1-23-2023: The Zoo held a press conference on Monday afternoon in which they identified the bird as Pin, a lappet-faced vulture who they say had a wound, which they did not elaborate on. They're offering a $10,000 reward for any information. The bird, which was at least 35 years old, had been at the Dallas Zoo for 33 years.
It's the latest in a long-running series of animal deaths at the zoo, more than a dozen in the past 10 years.
said the death does not appear to be from natural causes, and they would surely be correct. Animals do not survive or thrive in captivity.
“Given the recent incidents at the Zoo, we alerted the Dallas Police Department,” their statement said. “We cannot share many details until Dallas PD has had more time to look into this matter.”
The "recent incidents" the zoo is referring to is the January 13th escape of a clouded leopard, which the zoo blamed on a mysterious tear in the leopard's enclosure, with a suggestion that another cage had a tear, as well.
Their unspoken implication seems to be that the vulture death is somehow related.
A statement from the DPD says that "on January 21, Dallas Police responded to the Dallas Zoo following a report of a dead vulture. The preliminary investigation determined the bird was found dead in its enclosure. The cause of death has not been determined at this time, but the death is being investigated as suspicious. A necropsy will be conducted on the bird."
When asked what made the death suspicious, a DPD spokesperson referred questions to Allyn Media, the high-profile Dallas agency known for managing crises and wealthy people things.
The leopard's escape made national news, morphing from the initial report that the leopard was missing to far-fetched leaps such as this FOX video claiming "Person purposefully let leopard loose at Dallas zoo: Officials said." (That is not what officials said. The actual quote was: "This wasn't something the cat did, it wasn't something a keeper did in error, and it wasn't a failure of the mesh.”)
"Is someone letting animals out at the Dallas Zoo?" asks this sensational piece, which begins, "It sounds crazy, but some think there may be a saboteur at the Dallas Zoo," quoting ex-Ohio-cop and media hound Tim Harrison. They're right, it does sound crazy.
“ALF, the Animal Liberation Front, will sometimes come in and do these things as you know, terrorists; we call them basically eco-terrorists,” Harrison says, before name-dropping PETA.
ALF has no affiliation with PETA, is not an organization per se, and has never had a presence in Dallas. Regarding animal activists in Dallas, there is a Facebook page in Dallas left over from the old days of protests against Ringling Circus. There's also a tiny group of about three people who've regularly protested sales of puppies at the Petland in Plano, and the occasional sign-holding protest over fur or foie gras.
According to a 2019 post on their website, the Dallas Zoo cares for eight vulture species, several of which are breeding pairs.
That an outside party could be involved in this vulture's death seems surprising considering the fact that the zoo itself just installed additional surveillance cameras and increased their overnight security patrols.
The most recent deaths at the zoo were a trio of giraffes who all died in October 2021.
The vulture joins this list of animals who've died at the Dallas Zoo:
- Jesse, a 14-year-old giraffe, died on October 29, 2021, cause unknown.
- Auggie, a 19-year-old giraffe, died in late October 2021 of liver failure.
- Marekani, a 3-month-old baby giraffe, sustained a mysterious injury and was euthanized on October 3, 2021.
- Kirk, a 31-year-old chimpanzee, died in August 2021 due to "surprise" heart disease.
- Keeya, a 6-year-old Hartmann's mountain zebra, died in March 2021 due to a mysterious unexplained head injury.
- Subira, a 24-year-old silverback gorilla, died suddenly in March 2020, due to a cough, or maybe cardiovascular disease.
- Hope, a 23-year-old Western lowland gorilla, died suddenly in November 2019 after being at the zoo for only two years.
- Ola, an 8-year-old female African painted dog, was killed in July 2019 by two other painted dogs, less than a month after she was transferred to the zoo.
- Witten, a 1-year-old giraffe, died in June 2019 during a physical exam under anesthesia when he suddenly stopped breathing.
- Adhama, a baby hippopotamus, mysteriously died in 2018.
- Kipenzi, a baby giraffe, died in 2015 after running in her enclosure.
- Kamau, a young cheetah, died of pneumonia in 2014.
- Johari, a female lion, was killed in front of zoo spectators in 2013 by male lions with whom she shared an enclosure.