Houston Zoo officials are investigating possible vandalism after an enclosure at the brown pelican habitat in the Children’s Zoo was deliberately cut.
Keepers noticed a 4-inch gap in the mesh of the enclosure on Monday, zoo spokesperson Jackie Wallace said in a statement. They determined the animals in the exhibit were secure and unharmed and immediately alerted the zoo’s security, Wallace said.
Out of an abundance of caution, all other animal areas were closely examined, but nothing similar was found.
“The Houston Zoo is prepared to prosecute to the fullest extent allowed by law anyone who compromises the animals in our care,” Wallace said. “We will not tolerate the theft or endangerment of any of our animals, big or small.”
The possible vandalism in Houston follows a spate of recent, bizarre incidents at zoos across the country.
Two tamarin monkeys were snatched from the Dallas Zoo last month. Authorities say the suspect in that case admitted to stealing the monkeys and trying to steal a clouded snow leopard, whose fenced enclosure was cut. He also told police that he wants to return to the zoo to take more animals if he gets out of jail, arrest warrant affidavits claim.
The monkeys were found at an unoccupied home in the Dallas area.
In Louisiana, 12 squirrel monkeys were stolen from Zoosiana in Broussard last month. The heist happened during a break-in at the zoo that targeted facilities for smaller primates, Zoosiana said. A suspect was arrested after police reviewed footage from the zoo.
And in New York City, a Eurasian eagle-owl whose enclosure was vandalized escaped from Central Park Zoo, was captured, and escaped again mid-rescue, the mayor’s office said.
The New York Police Department confirmed the bird, Flaco, had evaded capture during a rescue attempt this month.
“Well, that was a hoot. We tried to help this lil wise guy, but he had enough of his growing audience & flew off,” NYPD tweeted.
While Flaco had been spotted in various parts of the city, the police admitted the bird was difficult to capture and was certainly a flight risk.
Flaco is “a recidivist in our area that magically disappears into the night,” NYPD’s Central Park precinct tweeted, “a real HOO-Dini.”