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Zoo Animals 2013: Wild Deer Jumps Into Cheetah Enclosure, Gets Killed

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First Posted: Dec 29, 2013 02:57 PM EST
Cheetah
(Photo : US Fish and Wildlife Service/Gary M. Stultz)

Life in the wild is supposed to be dangerous. A Washington, D.C. area deer found that the confines of a zoo enclosure can be much more so.

A wild white-tailed deer hopped the fence into the National Zoo on Saturday. Unfortunately for the deer, it jumped into the cheetah enclosure. As a zookeeper explained, the cats showed a "normal and expected reaction," catching and killing the deer.

The cheetahs, a brother and sister named Carmelita and Justin, apparently killed their unexpected visitor some time in the late morning. They were not given the pleasure of eating their prey, however, because of safety concerns. Zoo officials removed the deer carcass and are now testing it to make sure it does not carry any diseases.

This is not the first time a deer has unwittingly jumped the wrong fence at the National Zoo. Wild deer are plentiful in the area, so they occasionally do pop in for a visit. A similar incident occurred in 2009 when a deer leapt into the zoo's lion enclosure and was attacked while visitors watched. That unfortunate deer was removed from the lions only to be euthanized by zoo staff.

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Further west, another deer and predator encounter happened at the Pittsburgh Zoo in 2007. That deer jumped from the top of a 20-foot wall into the zoo's polar bear exhibit, landing in the bears' pool. Two bears circled the deer but did not attack. Unfortunately for the adventurous deer, it went into shock after the ordeal and had to be euthanized. Video of the incident can be seen here.

Perhaps wild deer who jump into herbivore enclosures are simply removed and not reported. It seems that those who leap into the company of enclosed predators rarely, if ever, survive the encounter.

However, it's not just zoos that pose a threat to D.C. area deer. The Washington Post reports that a rash of unnatural deer deaths have recently occurred in the area. These include deer involved in traffic accidents as well as more unusual cases. Earlier this year, a male deer was found wandering around the city with a severe arrow wound.

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