The Audubon Zoo is closed after a jaguar escaped its exhibit Saturday morning, attacking and killing six other animals.
The New Orleans Times-Picayune reported that a male jaguar at the Audubon Zoo escaped shortly before 7:30 a.m. Saturday and killed four alpaca, one emu and one fox.
The zoo released a statement following the incident.
"The animal care team is devastated by this tragic loss", said Frank Donze, Audubon Zoo communications specialist.
Dr Kyle Burks, the zoo's managing director: "These are our family and we have had such a great response on social media, from people sharing how they feel for our team and I can't say how much we appreciate that". "We have grief counsellors coming in to talk to staff to help them get through this". Three other animals were being treated after the incident.
Did the zoo open on Saturday?
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Horrified witnesses said they could see zookeepers sprinting to the edge of the tiger enclosure, throwing pieces of meat as an unsuccessful distraction.
Meet Valerio, our male jaguar! The jaguar apparently didn't eat any of the animals; the attacks were likely part of territorial aggression, Hamilton said.
It was not immediately clear how the animal got out of its enclosure and zoo officials said they were investigating.
"The safety of our guests and our staff and our animals are our No. 1 priority", Burks said. We are taking this incident very seriously and working to investigate what happened to prevent a similar occurrence in the future.
Joel Hamilton, vice president and general curator at the zoo, said the three-year-old jaguar will not be euthanized.