Sheep escapes Los Angeles Zoo, dies after car strikes it

LOS ANGELES - A bighorn sheep escaped from the Los Angeles Zoo at Griffith Park on Saturday and dashed around the hills in the park for hours before it ended up on a residential street where it was struck by a car and died, a zoo spokeswoman said.

The sheep got free from its enclosure and darted through an area where zoo visitors were gathered. It escaped the zoo, probably by jumping a fence, and scampered around the hills of the park, said zoo spokeswoman April Spurlock.

The animal was loose for about three hours before it was struck by a car on a residential street near the Greek Theatre, she said. The concert venue is about 2 miles southwest of the zoo, on the other side of Griffith Park.

Veterinarians and animal care staff set up a perimeter around the sheep and tranquilized it. The animal died a short time later, Spurlock said, and it appears the sheep succumbed to injuries from being hit by the car but a necropsy is planned to determine the exact cause of death.

The car's driver did not stop after striking the animal, but witnesses saw the car-on-sheep collision, Spurlock said.

When the sheep was loose in the zoo, one patron "encountered" the animal, Spurlock said, but she could not say if the person was injured.

Zoo officials were still trying to determine how the animal got out of its enclosure, which has four other sheep.

The Los Angeles Zoo has seen a number of animals get free over the years. In 2000, a gorilla got out of her enclosure and frolicked around the zoo as a news helicopter filmed it from above.