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Jaguar escapes New Orleans zoo enclosure, kills 8 animals


Caroline Floyd
Meteorologist

Sunday, July 15, 2018, 8:28 PM - The Audubon Zoo in New Orleans was closed Saturday after a jaguar escaped its enclosure and went on a rampage that resulted in the deaths of eight other animals.

The 3-year-old male cat, Valerio, reportedly escaped his enclosure around 7:20 a.m. Saturday, before the zoo was opened to the public for the day. Animals in several nearby habitats were mauled, including several alpaca, one emu, and several foxes before the jaguar was sedated by zoo veterinary staff around 8:15 a.m. No people were injured during the escape, and the zoo remained closed on Saturday. As of Sunday afternoon, the zoo reported that five of the alpaca, two foxes, and the emu had all perished from their injuries.


Image credit Audubon Zoo/Photo credit Susan Poag Photography.

In a Saturday afternoon update, zoo officials said their initial inspection suggested the roof of the jaguar habitat was "compromised". "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. Releases from the zoo indicate that they have ruled out keeper error as the cause of the escape.



Officials have said the jaguar will not be euthanized in the wake of the incident. Joel Hamilton, the zoo's general curator, said the cat was "doing what jaguars do."

Valerio came to the Audubon Zoo in October of 2017 from San Diego Zoo, where he was born in 2015. The only "big cat" native to the Americas, adult male jaguars can reach six feet long and weigh up to 250 pounds.


Thumbnail: Audubon/Susan Poag

WATCH BELOW: ELDERLY JAGUAR GETS A HELPFUL BACK SCRATCH



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