July 20, 2005 -- -- Packs of stray dogs have been marauding at Indiana zoos, massacring eight exotic birds at the Indianapolis Zoo on Sunday and killing eight fallow deer over a period of three days at a private zoo in Parker City.
At least one of the dogs involved in the attacks was wearing a collar, but so far officials have been unable to determine whether the dogs are housepets on a spree or feral animals.
The killing spree at the Indianapolis Zoo left eight Australian birds dead and devastated zoo staff.
Zoo officials said they believe the birds were killed around 6 a.m. on Sunday, and they had to delay opening the zoo for three hours while they double-checked security at the facility.
The dogs attacked the birds in an exhibit beside the elephant and giraffe exhibit. They wiped out the zoo's entire emu population, and also killed two black swans and three magpie geese.
"There's no question that they were on a spree," zoo President Mike Crowther said Sunday. "The animals in that area were definitely devastated. We're obviously saddened by the loss of these birds. There are a number of staff in tears today."
After examining the perimeter fence for any area that the dogs may have exploited to get into the facility, zoo officials said they believe the dogs were able to get in by squeezing under the main gate.
Officials believe the six dogs entered the zoo while chasing at least one raccoon. The bodies of two raccoons, apparently mauled by dogs, were found outside the zoo and another was found inside, officials said.
"It's a shocking way to lose animals," Paul Grayson, zoo vice president, said of the birds' deaths. "It is a rare instance that a dog pack gets into a zoo."
Zoo employees monitoring surveillance cameras saw the attack as it was going on. They called animal control offiicers and Indianapolis police, but by the time they arrived the damage had already been done.