Jaguar kills 4 alpacas, emu, fox at New Orleans zoo

By GISELA CRESPO, CNN
Audubon Nature Institute via CNN

The jaguar was sedated and returned to its area, zoo officials said.

(CNN) - The jaguar that escaped his habitat at Audubon Zoo in New Orleans over the weekend, killing nine other animals, is believed to have chewed through a stainless steel barrier on the roof of his enclosure and then squeezed out.

Dr. Kyle Burks, vice president and managing director of the zoo, said Monday that workers found an opening of about 8 inches by 10 inches in the jaguar's enclosure.

Valerio, a 3-year-old male jaguar, was spotted outside his area by a zoo employee on Saturday morning.

Valerio attacked and killed five alpacas, two foxes and one emu. Another fox was also attacked and was improving, but its condition turned critical Sunday night and it died Monday morning.

Valerio was sedated by a team of veterinarians and the animal was returned and secured in his area. He's now being housed in the carnivore section of the zoo's hospital. No humans were injured.

The zoo said it is working on plans to strengthen the barriers around the enclosure and looking at the barriers of other enclosures as well.

No initial explanation was given for the jaguar's escape on Saturday, but the zoo said an "after-action review" was taking place.

Burks said the zoo has no plans to euthanize Valerio.

"He is a part of our family and he was unfortunately doing what jaguars do," Burks said.

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story incorrectly spelled the name of the jaguar that escaped. It is Valerio.

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