Suspicious death of endangered vulture at Dallas Zoo leads to $10,000 reward

The Dallas Zoo is offering a $10,000 reward for information about the death of one of its endangered vultures in “highly suspicious” circumstances.

The lappet-faced vulture named Pin was around 35 years old and was found dead in its habitat on Saturday morning with a “wound” to its body, the zoo said at a press conference.

An animal autopsy has confirmed the death was unnatural and police are investigating several possibilities, including that the death and other strange occurrences at the zoo could have been an inside job.

“We are also very disturbed by the idea that someone could have done this intentionally,” said Harrison Edell of the Dallas Zoo.

Park officials did not specify the nature of the injury, but shared that anyone who might have injured “Pin,” as he was called, should have gone through the barriers surrounding his enclosure.

Lappet-faced vulture Pin was killed under suspicious circumstances and the Dallas Zoo has vowed to find the culprit
dallas zoo

“Everything is suspicious at this point – internal, external – we are looking at every option,” zoo president Gregg Hudson revealed.

“I have been in the zoo profession for over 30 years and I have never had a situation like the one that happened on Saturday. It is unprecedented and very disturbing,” he added.

The police were called, not only because of the disappearance of the bird, but also because a leopard escaped from its habitat last week in the same zoo. Officials believe someone had intentionally opened up the wildcat enclosure, as well as another that housed a monkey. Nova, the clouded leopard, was later found.


Gregg Hudson gives a press conference
Gregg Hudson, President of the Dallas Zoo
KDFWName

“If it’s related to anything with the clouded leopard before, it’s definitely crossing some kind of barrier,” Hudson added. “It really ranges from malicious intent to criminal intent. It’s dangerous.

Investigators are reviewing footage from more than 100 cameras on the grounds of the zoo. Additional security, including equipment loaned by law enforcement, was brought in to prevent the culprit from striking again.

Additional staff and security have also been added to cover night hours.


    A leopard growls on a branch
Nova, the zoo’s clouded leopard has also been released from its cage
dallas zoo

Given the vulture’s protected species status, US Fish and Wildlife joined the investigation.

“It’s a species that could go extinct in our lifetime,” Edell explained.

Pin lived at the Dallas Zoo for 33 years and is one of only 27 of his species alive in US wildlife facilities.


Local police at the Dallas Zoo
Local police at the Dallas Zoo
PA

Dallas police are asking anyone with information to call 214-670-7694, adding that those responsible could face felony charges.

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