Zoo Closes Temporarily Due To Coyote Break-In

Every now and then you hear about zoo animals breaking out of their enclosures – a few have even made it to the city streets beyond – but it’s not often that you hear about a wild predator breaking in to the zoo!

Early this morning a coyote was spotted on the grounds of the Detroit Zoo, prompting officials to temporarily shut down the facility. They reopened around 10:30 AM, but the outlaw coyote remains at large.

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Zoo officials have assured that there is no risk to the public, and that the temporary closure was just a precaution taken because the coyote sighting coincided with the scheduled arrival of school field trip buses.

According to Detroit Zoo spokesperson, Patricia Janeway, the coyote may pose a threat to some of the smaller animals and birds, but they are taking special care to shelter them. She added that this isn’t a new problem for the zoo. They have had several temporary closures in the past caused by uninvited guests like skunks, foxes and raccoons. They even had a deer break in last year.

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Although the coyote is a bit more concerning than past unwanted visitors, the Humane Society notes that it is very rare for them to attack humans. According to their website, more people are killed by errant golf balls and flying champagne corks each year than are bitten by coyotes.

Coyotes prefer small mammals such as mice and voles as prey, and tend to be nocturnal. However, that does not mean that spotting a coyote in the daytime is a sign that it is sick or aggressive.

They should naturally flee from the presence of humans, but if they linger or attempt to approach, CoyoteSmarts.org recommends:

-Be as big and loud as possible. Do not run or turn your back.

-Wave your arms, clap your hands, and shout in an authoritative voice.

-Make noise by banging pots and pans or using an air horn or whistle.

-Throw small stones, sticks, tennis balls or anything else you can lay your hands on. Remember the intent is to scare and not to injure.

-Spray with a hose, if available, or a squirt gun filled with water and vinegar.

-Shake or throw a “coyote shaker”—a soda can filled with pennies or pebbles and sealed with duct tape.

While the coyote has likely already found his or her way back out of the zoo, officials plan to keep a watchful eye out and continue to protect the animals and guests in their care.

H/T to Detroit Free Press

Featured Image via Flickr/Ilouque