A tragedy at a zoo in New Orleans, Louisiana took place on Saturday morning after a jaguar escaped from its enclosure.
Audubon Nature Institute was closed to the public yesterday due to the incident. The zoo said in a statement that their 3-year-old jaguar, Valerio, was reported to have escaped from its habitat at about 7:20 a.m. The zoo was closed to the public at that time.
"Veterinarians had to prepare tranquilizers and position themselves to get a good line of sight. Once darted, the jaguar was sedated within minutes," said the zoo.
The jaguar was sedated and secured by the veterinary team and the situation was resolved by 8:15 a.m., but sadly, four alpaca, one emu, and one fox in nearby habitats were attacked and killed.
“We are mourning the loss of six animals that did not survive and three animals injured (one alpaca named Daisy and two foxes called Copper and Rusty) that are under professional animal care.”
The names of the alpaca that did not survive were Noel, Micia, Alexandria, and Lil Melody. The fox was named Maggie Mae and the emu was called Elmo.
The zoo says that nothing will happen to Valerio, such as being put down, because “it was just doing what jaguars do.”
“We are certainly not going to euthanize the animal over this,” said Joel Hamilton, vice president and general curator for the zoo.
From an initial inspection, the zoo said that it appears that the roof of the jaguar habitat was “compromised.”
There were no human injuries in the incident, and the zoo says that an after-action review will take place as well as an investigation into how the jaguar escaped.
The zoo is home to two jaguars. The female, named Ix Chel, was safe in a separate indoor habitat during the incident. The zoo will open to the public again today, however the jaguar habitat will remain closed.
The zoo is offering grief counseling to their staff in response to the incident.