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White-tailed deer jumps into cheetah enclosure at National Zoo, killed by carnivorous big cats

Two cheetahs at the Smithsonian's National Zoo came across unexpected prey and the result was predictable.

Zoo officials say a white-tailed deer was killed by the cheetahs after it apparently jumped into their enclosure on Friday. A spokeswoman calls it "a normal and expected reaction" by the carnivorous big cats.

The zoo says a zookeeper heard noises from the cheetah pen shortly before noon and found the deer carcass next the cheetah siblings, named Carmelita and Justin.

Doctors will examine the carcass to make sure the deer didn't have any diseases.

No witnesses saw the deer entering the cheetah habitat — other than the cheetahs.

Deer are plentiful in Rock Creek Park, which borders the zoo. The National Park Service has used sharpshooters to control the deer population.

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