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National Zoo Director: Animal Deaths Show Resources are Strained

A zoo employee was seriously injured in a zebra attack, which authorities are also investigating, along with three animal deaths at the facility this year.

The National Zoo. File|Patch
The National Zoo. File|Patch

The director of the National Zoo told the Washington Post that the recent deaths of three animals and a Grévy’s zebra attack on a keeper indicate that the zoo’s resources and staff are stretched too thin.

The comments by Dennis Kelly came as the zoo concludes reviews into several serious incidents within the last year.

“We are spread too thin, is the conclusion that I’ve come to,” he said to the Post “Not just that area. It’s really the whole zoo — I dare say the whole Smithsonian . . . as a result of the almost three years now of budget uncertainty and budget cuts.”

On Nov. 18, zookeeper Wayne Millner was attacked by the Grévy’s zebra in the animal’s compound. Millner was hospitalized with severe injuries from bites and kicks, the newspaper said.

The animal deaths cited by the Post include a female red river hog that died of septicemia in the zoo hospital Dec. 17 after she had lost a quarter of her weight in eight weeks, apparently because of improper nutrition.

In two cases animals were startled by something and ran into a wall, resulting in death. One was a kudu, a type of antelope, while the other was a Dama gazelle.

Read the full story on the Washington Post website.

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