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`FRUSTRATED’ S.L. BOY BLUDGEONS 2 BIRDS TO DEATH AT TRACY AVIARY

SHARE `FRUSTRATED’ S.L. BOY BLUDGEONS 2 BIRDS TO DEATH AT TRACY AVIARY

A 13-year-old boy killed two valuable birds with a stick and "whacked" several others at Tracy Aviary because he said he was "angry and frustrated."

Using a 52-inch pole, the boy beat to death a baby black neck swan valued at $800 and a flamingo valued at $1,000 after climbing over the fence both Wednesday and Thursday nights."It's appalling. It's disgusting. It's nauseating," said Tracy Aviary curator Grenville Roles. "We're just disgusted and furious. It's incomprehensible."

Security officers apprehended the boy about 9 p.m. Thursday, just after he'd killed the baby swan. He told police he rode his bike to Liberty Park from his home a few blocks away and climbed over the fence to get at the birds. He said he'd been there for 30 minutes throwing sticks and rocks at the birds and "whacking" them with the pole, a Salt Lake police report states.

When Roles arrived at the aviary, he told police about the flamingo that they'd found dead that morning. The boy admitted that he'd killed that bird the night before, according to the report.

Roles said he and co-workers originally believed the flamingo had become frightened the night before and had possibly been killed by another animal. "It was a most bizarre and peculiar death that we couldn't explain," he said. "The trauma was substantial to that bird."

When asked why he was killing the birds, the 13-year-old told officers he was "angry and frustrated." He said he was in counseling and on medications, "but he was just angry," the report states.

"He appeared to be very forthcoming. He wasn't holding back anything," Roles said of the teen.

"I was at least as angry and frustrated as he was, and I could not bring myself to even speak to the child."

The curator said the baby swan likely came over to the boy thinking it would be fed. Instead, it was slaughtered.

"We're appalled. If it had been a bird that threatened the boy, that's one thing. But to take perhaps the most helpless creature in the whole place and bludgeon it is appalling . . . regardless of any inner turmoil he was feeling."

The boy was referred to juvenile court for investigation of animal cruelty, felony vandalism and trespassing. His father, recently separated from the boy's mother, took custody of him.

Roles said the flamingos at the aviary still acted traumatized late Friday. "The flamingos are petrified and are running from the keeper, so (the boy) must have chased them around last night," he said, adding that it will take time for them to become trusting again.

While Tracy employs security officers, Roles said their security measures can only go so far. "We can't turn the place into a prison camp with 15-foot fences and razor wire," he said. "If someone's determined to get in there we have no effective barrier."

Roles said he planned to speak with police about a mysterious incident when a crane suffered a broken wing several months ago to see if there is any possible connection.