A flamingo had to be euthanised at a zoo in Indiana after a child threw a rock at the bird and broke its leg.
The child, an elementary school student, was visiting the Miller Park Zoo in Bloomington, when they threw the rock which struck the bird.
In a statement to local press, the zoo superintendent Jay Tetzloff said they had to make the difficult decision to euthanise the bird.
In an email to The Pantagraph in Bloomington, via TIME, Tetzloff said:
Unfortunately, staff determined the best course of action given the animal’s injuries was to euthanize the bird.
It was also reported the zoo was ‘working with the juvenile’s family to move forward,’ and added they will not be making any changes to the layout of the flamingo enclosure.
Despite their appearance, flamingos are resilient birds and can thrive in harsh climates. However, according to expert Dr. Felicity Aregno, it can be very easy to break a flamingo’s leg as: ‘their legs are extremely thin and they are not covered by muscle’.
The flamingos in Indiana’s Miller Park Zoo are from the Greater Flamingo subspecies. It is the most widespread variety, and they can live up to 60 years while in captivity. In the wild, they are not considered endangered or threatened.
According to Aregno, flamingos can actually thrive while in captivity, as they become self-sustaining and are able to reproduce easily. She added zoos also ‘have great educational purpose’, so the species can be studied and learned from up close.
The incident is the latest in a run of bad behaviour by members of the public at zoos. Earlier this year, a woman in Arizona was attacked by a jaguar when she climbed over the safety barriers to take a selfie.
GRAPHIC VIDEO: Woman attacked by a jaguar at @ZooWildlife … officials say, the woman crossed over a barrier to get a photo. I’ll have more at 9 and 10.
— Jennifer Martinez (@Jennifer_Fox10) March 10, 2019
While last July, a teenager apparently stole an endangered ring-tailed lemur from the Santa Ana Zoo. The 19-year-old admitted to using bolt cutters to break into the enclosure, LA Times reports.
All the animals which escaped were safely retrieved, except the 32-year-old lemur named Isaac. The lemur was eventually found in a crate outside a hotel in Newport Beach with a note reading: ‘This belongs to the Santa Ana Zoo. It was taken last night. Please bring it to police.’
The break-in reportedly cost the zoo around $8,500.
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Charlie Cocksedge is a journalist at UNILAD. He graduated from the University of Manchester with an MA in Creative Writing, where he learnt how to write in the third person, before getting his NCTJ. His work has also appeared in such places as The Guardian, PN Review and the bin.