Deer Fatally Leaps Into Zoo's Cheetah Cage

Cheetahs showed "a normal and expected reaction," Zoo says

Saturday, Dec 28, 2013  |  Updated 1:27 PM CDT
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A deer re-defined "wrong place, wrong time" Friday when it jumped into an enclosure at the Smithsonian National Zoo that houses two young cheetahs.

The result was, sadly for the deer, predictable.

Zoo officials say the white-tailed deer was killed by the cheetahs after it apparently jumped into their enclosure on Friday. A spokeswoman calls it "a normal and expected reaction'' by the carnivorous big cats.

The zoo says a zookeeper heard noises from the cheetah pen shortly before noon and found the deer carcass next the cheetah siblings, named Carmelita and Justin.

The cheetahs were named after two U.S. Olympic sprinters.

Doctors will examine the carcass to make sure the deer didn't have any diseases.

No witnesses saw the deer entering the cheetah habitat -- other than the cheetahs, that is.

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Deer are plentiful in Rock Creek Park, which borders the zoo, and the overpopulation has caused problems with drivers and gardeners in the area.

So the news of the deer's demise met with some jaundiced reactions in D.C. "Good Eats!" wrote one commenter on NBCWashington's Facebook page. "Nom nom nom," wrote another.

"Oh deer," wrote a third.

In 2009, a deer jumped into the lion's enclosure at the Zoo and was attacked while Zoo patrons watched. Zoo officials got the visitors away and euthanized the deer.

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