The Utica Zoo is mourning the deaths of the zoo’s two female ostriches, “Bina” and “Bushara.”

The animals were discovered by animal caretakers on Thursday morning and officials believe it may have been the result of aggression by their exhibit mate, a male Hartmann’s zebra.

The zoo’s male ostrich and the two male zebras in the exhibit space have been separated from each other.

The trio of ostriches and pair of zebras had been living together in their exhibit space at the zoo for seven years in what zoological experts describe as a “common and natural pairing”.

Mark Simon, Visitor Experience and Marketing Manager for the Utica Zoo, said “Whether in the wild or under human care, animals can be truly unpredictable. This was a tragic accident. While the Utica Zoo team processes the emotional impact of this atypical incident, we are also debriefing with other industry experts to determine the next steps.”

The zoo has been partnering with another facility as part of a breeding recommendation for one of the male zebras to leave and the plans are ongoing.

The Ostrich and Zebra exhibit has been closed off to visitors.