zoo spokeswoman Annalisa Meyer said that a keeper heard “bleating from the cheetah yard” at about 11:40 a.m.
When checking on the cheetahs, the keeper saw a wild deer on the ground, with one cheetah biting its throat and another behind the deer, which was already dead.
Meyer told DCist that no one saw how the deer got into the cheetah yard, but they assume it jumped in. The zoo will also check to make sure the deer didn’t have any diseases. So far, the cheetahs — siblings Carmelita and Justin — don’t appear to have been made ill.
The Associated Press reports no witnesses saw the deer entering the cheetah habitat — other than the cheetahs.
Deer are plentiful in Rock Creek Park, which borders the zoo. The National Park Service has used sharpshooters to control the deer population.