The Detroit Zoo recently attracted an unexpected visitor: a wild animal.
On Monday morning, a wild coyote was spotted trotting around the grounds of the Detroit Zoo shortly before several school field trips were set to arrive, reports the Detroit Free Press.
In response, the zoo temporarily shut down to search for the unofficial visitor. After a thorough search of the park turned up zero wild coyotes, the zoo opened, assuring visitors they were not at risk. While the zoo is confident about the safety of the guests, keepers are worried the coyote may try to attack the park’s animal residents like flamingoes and storks.
“Every now and then, these things happen,” said Detroit Zoo spokeswoman Patricia Janeway told the paper. “We will shelter animals that might be at risk.”
Zoo officials have experience with animal intruders, having safely removed wild racoons, foxes and deer from the grounds in the past and are confident that they coyote will be located and moved from the zoo without incident.
For those planning to visit the Detroit Zoo, now is a great time to learn about what to do if you spot a wild coyote. Most importantly, don’t approach the animal. Coyotes, like many wild animals, are more afraid of humans than we are of them, and are not likely to attack unless they feel threatened.
“Often, coyote attacks are preventable by modifying human behavior and educating people about ways to prevent habituation. In many human attack incidents, it turns out that the offending coyote was being fed by people. In many other instances, people were bitten while trying to rescue their free-roaming pet from a coyote attack. Less often, people are bitten by cornered coyotes, or even more rarely, rabid coyotes,” reported the Humane Society, which also said more people die from errant golf balls each year than coyote attacks.
If you happen to spot the Detroit Zoo’s guest star or see a wild coyote around your own home, the best thing to do is let the animal leave on it’s own, which it is likely to do. If the coyote lingers, try to act as big and loud as possible to scare the coyote off. Other ways of scaring off a coyote include banging pots and pans, throwing small objects near (not at) the animal or spraying a hose by the coyote.