Jaguar kills eight animals after escaping from zoo enclosure

Zoo forced to close for the day as aplacas, foxes and an emu were mauled by the jaguar

Valerio the jaguar was born in San Diego Zoo before moving to New Orleans. Photograph: Audubon Zoo

Valerio the jaguar was born in San Diego Zoo before moving to New Orleans. Photograph: Audubon Zoo

 

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

The male jaguar’s escape was reported around 7.20 am (12.20 GMT), when the zoo was still closed to the public, according to the zoo. The large cat, named Valerio, mauled four alpaca, an emu and a fox in nearby habitats before it was sedated by the zoo’s veterinary team less than an hour later. An alpaca and fox died on Sunday following injuries.

No people were injured, the zoo said. It was not immediately clear how the animal got out of its habitat, 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 at a news conference at the zoo.

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,” said Joel Hamilton, the zoo’s general curator.

Valerio was born at the San Diego Zoo in March 2015 and moved to New Orleans in October 2017. Male jaguars can reach six feet long, not including their tails, and weigh up to 250 pounds; the animal is the only so-called “big cat” native to the Americas.

Officials emphasised that Saturday’s incident was unprecedented and assured potential visitors that there is no safety concern. – Reuters