By CBS Baltimore Staff

BALTIMORE (WJZ) — More than two dozen flamingos and a duck were found dead after a wild fox breached a bird habitat early Monday morning at the Smithsonian National Zoo in Washington, D.C.

The zoo said staff entered the Bird House to find 25 American flamingos and a Northern pintail duck dead. The staff also saw the fox, which escaped the yard.

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A new “softball-sized” hole was found in the heavy-duty mesh that surrounds the enclosure that was not seen during an inspection conducted Sunday, the zoo said.

The remaining flamingos of what was a flock of 74 were moved to their barn indoors, and the ducks were moved to a secure outdoor space.

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“This is a heartbreaking loss for us and everyone who cares about our animals,” said Brandie Smith, John and Adrienne Mars Director, Smithsonian’s National Zoo and Conservation Biology Institute. “The barrier we used passed inspection and is used by other accredited zoos across the country. Our focus now is on the well-being of the remaining flock and fortifying our habitats.

The zoo has taken several further steps to protect the animals, including live traps around the outdoor yard, digital cameras with infrared sensors triggered by movement at night, and reinforcement to the metal mesh surrounding the flamingo yard.

The flamingo exhibit has been at the Zoo since the 1970s as it is currently designed and this is the first predator mesh breach, the zoo said. The Bird House is currently undergoing a major renovation and is closed to the public.

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CBS Baltimore Staff