Animal Escapes from Washington, DC's National Zoo
Soon after I posted this message about the loof lirpa that escaped from Washington, DC's National Zoo this morning, the Police Commander in the precinct where the zoo is located responded. The orignal alert and his response are printed below.
These messages were posted on the Cleveland Park Listserv, www.cleveland-park.com, a neighborhood email list in Washington, DC.
I want to alert all list members to a bulletin I just received: A loof lirpa has escaped from the National Zoo. The animal ran out of its enclosure about 10 minutes ago when the zookeeper on duty was texting while the enclosure was unlocked.
The lirpa was last spotted heading north on Connecticut Avenue, and is
probably in the vicinity of Porter Street and Connecticut Avenue about
now. It may have stopped to snack on the vegetables at the outdoor
carts at Magruder's.
DO NOT TRY AND CAPTURE THE LOOF LIRPA ON YOUR OWN. The lirpa stands
about 4 feet tall, has a gazelle-like horns, weighs about 350 pounds,
and comes from Patagonia. In other respects the lirpa resembles an
alpaca. Normally the lirpa is gentle, but during its mating season
(springtime, which is now), it can become aggressive. IF YOU HAVE A
LARGE DOG, PLEASE KEEP YOUR DOG INSIDE. The naturally nearsighted
lirpa may mistake your pet for its mate -- and it was the male that
escaped. German shepherds, golden retrievers, and dalmatians are
especially at risk, but even smaller dogs like miniature poodles and
dachshunds may be a mating target, too, if the lirpa's sex desire is
strong enough. Cats should be safe, unless they are abnormally large
The loof lirpa is a rare species and only about 12 zoos in the United
States have one; half that number have a breeding pair, as the
National Zoo does. Males in solo captivity lose their mating desire,
but this male lirpa was planning to mate Friday or Saturday night
(after dinner); its hormones are therefore likely to be at or near
If you're driving, please keep a lookout and drive carefully. The
lirpa is quite a leaper. When a lirpa escaped from the San Diego Zoo
in 2003 it caused a 7-car pile-up. The lirpa makes a clop-clop sound
when it runs. Also, it has an aroma that can best be described a
smelling like cheap cologne, so you should be able to tell right
away if the lirpa is or has been nearby.
The zoo has temporarily banned cell phone texting --for employees and
visitors-- in the wake of this incident.
Please be careful. Treat the loof lirpa with caution -- it's a wild
animal, and you can't tell how a wild animal will behave.
If you see the lirpa, please contact officials
right away -- contact information here: http://zooalert.notlong.com .
And the actual response from the police:
Mr. Adler and community,
Thank you for this alert.
I would like to also alert the community that our officers are on the lookout for this animal. Our helicopter is up in the air right now, and we are responding to several lirpa sightings in the Cleveland Park community. Many of our officers who work near the Zoo are specially trained in animal capture and retention, and we feel confident that this situation will be brought under control at some point today.
Please go inside if you smell the aroma mentioned in the previous email. Our officers are also releasing a chemical which imitates the odor of the female lirpa when in heat, in order to facilitate capture, so the male's natural odors combined with the chemicals we are releasing produce an overwhelmingly interesting, and perhaps negative, smell.
We ask that pedestrians who may see or even encounter the animal avoid any sudden gestures which startle wild animals, and we ask that motorists who catch a glimpse of this lirpa please alert us by cell phone only after safely pulling to the curb.
We will continue to provide periodic updates and I want to say again that we are committed to a speedy apprehension. I understand the lirpa is normally subdued during evening hours, so if we are not successful in assisting the Zoo with finding the lirpa today, I have the utmost confidence we will probably get him tomorrow.
Commander, Second District