UK & US

Jaguar escapes enclosure and kills six zoo animals

A jaguar killed six animals and injured three others when he escaped from his enclosure at a zoo in New Orleans.

Valerio, a three-year-old male jaguar, killed four alpacas, an emu and a fox – but no humans were injured in the incident.

Audubon Zoo said the dead alpacas were called Noel, Micia, Alexandria and Lil Melody, the emu was called Elmo, and the fox was named Maggie Mae.

Another alpaca, called Daisy, was injured – as were two foxes called Copper and Rusty.

Valerio had escapsed from his enclosure at about 7.20am (1.20pm UK time) on Saturday – and he was sedated and taken back to his habitat in under an hour.

Image: Valerio, three, 'was doing what jaguars do', the zoo said

In a statement, the zoo said: "The team responded immediately to the incident. Veterinarians had to prepare tranquillisers and position themselves to get a good line of sight. Once darted, the jaguar was sedated within minutes.

"We are still investigating how this happened. From our initial inspection, it appears the roof of the habitat was compromised. We are still investigating, and no animals will be housed in this enclosure until the investigation and repairs are completed.

"The safety of our guests, staff, volunteers, and animals is our number one priority. We are taking this incident very seriously and working to investigate what happened to prevent a similar occurrence in the future.

"We perform drills annually and have protocols for this exact situation to ensure that emergencies of this kind are resolved as safely and quickly as possible."

The statement added it was a "difficult day for the Audubon family" and said the animal care team was "devastated" by the loss.

The zoo said it will not be euthanized after the attacks
Image: The zoo said it will not be euthanised after the attacks

Joel Hamilton, the zoo's vice president, said there were no plans to put down the jaguar because "it was doing what jaguars do".

He said: "Our staff truly care about these animals, not just care for them. We have grief counsellors coming in to talk to staff to help them get through this."

Dr Kyle Burks, the zoo's managing director: "These are our family and we have had such a great response on social media, from people sharing how they feel for our team and I can't say how much we appreciate that."

The zoo was closed on Saturday but will reopen at 10am on Sunday.

More from New Orleans

It's not the first time an animal has escaped in Audubon Zoo. In 2001, a cub named Mulac escaped for about 10 minutes before he was brought down with a tranquilliser dart.

No animals or humans were hurt in that incident.

Original Article

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