Updated

July 16, 2018 12:49:52

A jaguar has escaped from its enclosure at the Audubon Zoo in New Orleans and killed six other animals before it was captured, forcing the zoo to close for the day.

Key points:

  • Jaguar was sedated by the zoo’s veterinary team
  • No people were injured, the zoo said
  • It was not immediately clear how the animal got out of its habitat

The male jaguar’s escape was reported about 7:20am on Saturday when the zoo was still closed to the public.

The three-year-old jaguar, named Valerio, killed four alpacas, an emu and a fox in nearby habitats before it was sedated by the zoo’s veterinary team less than an hour later. Three others animals were also injured.

No people were injured, the zoo said.

It was not immediately clear how the animal got out of its enclosure and zoo officials said they were investigating.

“We’re looking at every possible cause,” Kyle Burks, the zoo’s vice-president and managing director, said.

“The safety of our guests and our staff and our animals is our number one priority and we take this situation very seriously and are working to investigate everything that happened so we can prevent anything like this from happening again.”

The jaguar’s attack on other animals was likely territorial, rather than driven by a desire to hunt for food, officials said.

“He’s a young male jaguar — he was doing what jaguars do,” Joel Hamilton, the zoo’s general curator, said.

“Certainly his behaviour wasn’t out of the ordinary for that kind of an animal, and he’s just a normal jaguar as far as we are concerned.”

But he said staff were devastated about the killed animals.

“That has a fairly large impact on our staff. Our staff truly care about these animals, not just care for these animals. We have grief counsellors coming in to talk to staff to help them get through this,” he said.

“Nothing is going to happen to the jaguar itself.”

Valerio was born at the San Diego Zoo in March 2015 and was moved to New Orleans in October 2017.

Male jaguars can reach 1.8 metres long, not including their tails, and weigh up to 113 kilograms.

The zoo is expected to reopen to the public on Sunday. Officials emphasised that Saturday’s incident was unprecedented and assured potential visitors there was no safety concern.

Reuters

Topics:

animal-attacks,

animals,

human-interest,

zoos,

united-states

First posted

July 15, 2018 10:46:29

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