An elementary school student threw a rock inside a flamingo exhibit at an Illinois zoo, breaking the exotic bird's leg and forcing zoo officials to euthanize it.

By Matt McNulty
May 22, 2019
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May 22, 2019

A flamingo at an Illinois zoo was euthanized on Monday after an elementary school student threw a rock at it, zoo officials say.

The student was throwing rocks inside the animal’s exhibit at the Miller Park Zoo in Bloomington, Illinois, when one of the rocks broke the flamingo’s leg, a zoo official told CNN. The injuries were severe enough to force the zoo to put the exotic bird down.

A representative with the zoo said it’s working with the young student’s family to ensure that the child learns from this experience.

“Unfortunately, staff determined the best course of action given the animal’s injuries was to euthanize the bird,” Miller Park Zoo Superintendent Jay Tetzloff told The Pantagraph newspaper.

“This was a truly unfortunate accident, and we are working with the juvenile’s family to move forward,”  Tetzloff added.

The zoo did not immediately respond to PEOPLE’s request for comment.

The Miller Park Zoo flamingo exhibit opened back in June 2016, with other indoor and outdoor exhibits including red pandas, lemurs, reindeer, river otters, gibbons, and red wolves, as well as a Sumatran tiger.

Flamingos can live up to 30 years on average, and can often reach 60 years old when in captivity, according to the University of Michigan.

Greater flamingos are native to countries in the Middle East, like Afghanistan, Iran and Turkey, as well as throughout West Africa, South America, and parts of Europe.

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