A jaguar that escaped captivity Saturday morning from the Audubon Zoo in New Orleans managed to kill six other animals in the park before being sedated by staff. Zoo officials said this is the first time in at least 50 years that one of its animals has killed others.
While on the loose, the jaguar managed to attack and kill six other animals - four alpacas, a fox and an emu.
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The jaguar, a 3-year-old named Valerio, did not appear to be eating the animals it went after but rather was engaged in a territorial display, said Kyle Burks, the zoo's vice-president and managing director.
Ron Forman, the president and chief executive of the zoo, said Saturday's series of attacks was the worst in the zoo's history, but told the public the Audubon Zoo was still safe.
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No humans were injured, although the circumstances of the escape sparked a worrisome thought at what might have been: The "jaguar jungle" is also home to a children's play area. "The animal care team is devastated by this tragic loss", Audubon Zoo Communications Specialist Frank Donze said. "This is by far the biggest tragedy we've had".
An internal investigation is examining how the animal escaped out of his quarters and the Audubon Zoo is set to reopen Sunday, July 15, at 10 a.m.
"This is a sad day for the Audubon family including our staff, volunteers, supporters and our community".
Hamilton added: "Our staff truly care about these animals, not just care for them". "So, we have a responsibility to protect them".
Zoo officials said they will not put the jaguar down under any circumstance. "In over 100 year period, we've never had an incident to create a problem for the public".