2 bush dogs presumed dead after flooding at West Palm Beach zoo

A bush dog at the Palm Beach Zoo. Photo credit: Palm Beach Zoo

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. (AP) – Two bush dogs have been presumed dead after flooding at a West Palm Beach zoo.

A Palm Beach Zoo news release says the habitat was discovered flooded Monday morning during routine checks of the small, South American canines. Workers spent the rest of the day pumping out water and excavating the area, but the animals weren’t found.

“They are one of a few mammal species at the Zoo that burrows, and when water started rising in their home, they likely went underground where they sleep,” said Jan Steele, the Zoo’s director of wildlife care and conservation.

Zoo officials say they thoroughly combed the habitat and surrounding fences for holes and tufts of fur or scratch marks, which may have indicated the dogs tried to climb a fence. Crews also assisted with the search, bringing in machinery to dig in hard to reach areas.

“Given the natural behaviors of this species, I can’t fathom any way they could have left the habitat. It’s more likely that in this situation they would burrow deeper, which would cause the water to flow in and the burrow to collapse,” said Steele.

Bush dogs are skittish, shy and only eat small rodents and lizards. They are very timid and will run away from just about anyone.

The zoo has contacted the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, and an investigation is ongoing.

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