The 3-year-old jaguar named Valerio escaped from his cage and killed nine animals at the Louisiana Audubon Zoo. This big cat literally chewed the steel mesh that made up the roof of its cage and escaped through the small hole, achieving its freedom.
Valerio wandered throughout the zoo and his instinct was stronger ... he killed all the animals that served him as food in his path.
Zoo staff noticed the jaguar's escape at 7:20 a.m. when they heard the cry of other animals that were harassed by the feline. At that time Valerio was in a corral and had attacked an alpaca and an emu.
The staff took shelter to avoid taking risks and called for help by radio. Specialized personnel quickly set up a security perimeter and the vets managed to reassure the jaguar.
Once Valerio was unconscious, he was transferred to his night room, safer and without contact with the outside.
Zoo authorities will reinforce the property called "Jaguar Jungle" to prevent other possible leaks.
"I'm still processing the fact that the animal was able to bite through this woven stainless steel wire," Kyle Burks, vice president and CEO of Audubon Zoo and Park, told Nola.com.
"I am really proud of our team's emergency response to what happened and our efforts to make sure it doesn't happen again," he said.
There are no surveillance cameras on the jaguar compound, so staff have no way of knowing how long Valerio was free.
"We know he was away long enough to do the things he did," Burks said. "For us, everything he was outside was too long."
Instinct or mass murder?
An expert who runs a group dedicated to protecting and preserving feral cats said that killing Valerio was, in fact, normal jaguar behavior.
"It was completely natural behavior that in no way reflected a bad cat," Dr. Aletris Neils, Conservation CATalyst CEO, told Nola.
Neils said that jaguars kill many animals available for food, as they can eat week-old meat, unlike most big cats that can only eat fresh meat.
Burks said zoo patrons expressed regret for the dead animals, erecting makeshift sanctuaries in the parking lot, and were also concerned for Valerio.
"There has been a lot of concern and concern about Valerio, will he be euthanized for this event?" Burks said.
“We do not intend to do that. He is also part of our family, and unfortunately he was doing what jaguars do ”.
With information from: