A deer jumping a wall at Washington, D.C.’s National Zoo was fatally injured by two lions on Sunday, November 8th, while dozens of spectators watched. The incident began around 2:50 p.m. as visitors lined a perimeter wall of an enclosure containing two female lions. A deer may have entered the enclosure from Rock Creek Park, where the zoo is located. Witnesses say the deer, over a 20 minute period, ran into and out of a moat, as the lions grabbed, clawed and swatted it about. The crowd of spectators grew. Many cried out and took small children away. A witness told reporters that the incident started when the deer “ran between people” near the low wall surrounding the sunken enclosure. The deer escaped, “then [was] caught again,” the witness, Rob Ephraim, said.
Finally, one lion dragged the deer near a stairwell. The deer broke free and ran toward the moat with the lion in pursuit. Zoo employees sent away visitors and coxed the lions indoors. The deer left the moat on its own, and was anesthetized by zoo personnel and taken for evaluation. It was determined that the deer, a female, “would not survive,” according to zoo officials, and was euthanized. A video of the incident shows the deer wiggling from the lion’s grip and fleeing, without any apparent wounds. An examination showed that along with head and neck scratches, the deer had a serious wound on its stomach. Many deer live in Rock Creek Park, and have been seen on zoo grounds. But officials say it’s rare for deer to get inside an enclosure.