The National Museum of the American Indian said equipment in an outdoor fountain that was supposed to protect wildlife appears to have failed, resulting in the deaths last week of five ducklings.

Museum spokeswoman Leonda Levchuk said the ducklings were pulled into a drain as horrified visitors watched Saturday afternoon. Workers responded in time to save five more ducklings.

Levchuk said the drains were covered with protective gratings last year after several young birds were killed. She said the grates might have been loosened by the flow of water, allowing the ducklings to slip through.

The museum will add netting around the grates until better grates can be added next week, she said.