Staff at an Illinois zoo were forced to euthanize one of its flamingos on May 20 after a child threw a rock into its enclosure, severely injuring it.
During the incident that occurred at Miller Park Zoo, the rock had hit and broken the bird’s leg, which led to it having to be put down, according to the zoo’s official.
“A juvenile guest accidentally injured a flamingo on Monday by skipping a rock into the habitat,” Jay Tetzloff, director of the zoo and Bloomington parks, recreation and cultural arts, told Pantagraph in a statement. “Unfortunately, staff determined the best course of action given the animal’s injuries was to euthanize the bird.”
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Tetzloff said the zoo is working with the child’s family and he hopes that the “unfortunate accident” will become a learning experience. The zoo added that it did not see a need to change the layout of the exhibit after the incident, reported the local newspaper.
The flamingo exhibit where the incident took place was opened in June 2016, according to the park’s statement (pdf). The exhibit features over 20 greater flamingoes—which is the tallest of six flamingo species.
According to National Geographic, these flamingos are found in warm, watery regions in various parts of the world. They tend to live near the water in lakes and are good swimmers. They also live on mud flats.
These flamingoes get their pink color from eating shrimplike crustaceans. They appear a more pale color in captivity unless they are given the right food.
Along with greater flamingos, the zoo also has reindeer, tiger, river otters, red pandas, lemurs, tortoise, bald eagles, snow leopards, gibbons, and red wolves, according to the zoo’s website.
In another similar incident at a Chinese zoo, a kangaroo was killed after visitors threw bricks and concrete chunks in order to get the animal to hop.
The incident, which occurred last year at Fuzhou Zoo in Fujian Province, caused a 12-year-old female kangaroo to die from a ruptured kidney after it was hit with the projectiles. Another 5-year-old male kangaroo also suffered minor injuries, reported Newsweek.
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The people who threw the objects were trying to attract a reaction when the marsupials were resting.
In a reverse incident in 2016, a 7-year-old girl died after an elephant threw a rock that hit her from its enclosure at a Moroccan zoo.
At the time the girl was posing for a photo at the Jardin Zoologique in Rabat. This was when an elephant picked up a large rock and threw it at her head, reported New York Daily News.
The girl was rushed to a hospital but she still succumbed to her injuries.
“These kinds of accidents are rare, unforeseeable and unusual,” the zoo said in a French statement at the time (pdf).
“The zoo’s staff offers their deepest sympathies to the family of the deceased at this difficult time,” it added.