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Kangaroo euthanized at Cleveland Zoo
A year-old kangaroo was fatally injured at the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo by the train that takes visitors across the grassy Australian Adventure exhibit.
She was struck at noon and euthanized at 1:30 p.m. Tuesday.
"The train operator did not see the red kangaroo lying on the tracks," spokeswoman Sue Allen said.
The kangaroo was the fifth animal struck by the Boomerang Express train since 2000, when the ride opened. It was the first one fatally injured by the train, which has a cow catcher on the front and moves about 2 or 3 miles per hour, Allen said.
"The cattle catcher should have caught the kangaroo and pushed her off to the side, but that didn't occur," she said.
The kangaroo was born at the zoo last year. Allen was unable to put a value on the animal and said she does not know if the zoo will replace it with a gift or loan from another zoo. The Cleveland Metroparks property tax issue covers the majority of the zoo's costs.
Zoo officials said they have shut down the train and ordered fences about 4 feet high to keep the kangaroos and wallabies away from the ride. The train will stay closed until fences are installed.
Until Wednesday, more than 25 red and gray kangaroos, wallabies and wallaroos were able to come up to the train to give passengers a closer experience.
Last year about 134,000 visitors paid $1.50 for the five-minute ride, Allen said.
The train driver, who had been on the job since March 26 and received 20 hours of training, was fired.
"The zoo regrets this unfortunate incident and is committed to taking steps that will ensure the safety of all its animals at all times," Allen said.
On May 18, the train ran over the tail of a female kangaroo. The tip of her tail had to be amputated.
Plain Dealer reporter Patrick O'Donnell contributed to this story.
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