The escaped jaguar that killed six animals and injured three others at New Orleans' Audubon Zoo on Saturday morning apparently had a "compromised" roof over its habitat, zoo officials said Saturday evening.
The 3-year-old Valerio escaped for about an hour before the zoo opened.
“He’s a young male jaguar. He was doing what jaguars do,” said Joel Hamilton, the zoo’s general curator.
The zoo will reopen Sunday, but the jaguar exhibit will be closed.
Can't see video below? Click here.
"The safety of our guests and our staff and our animals is our No. 1 priority and we take this situation very seriously," said Kyle Burks, VP managing director for Audubon Zoo, "and we take this situation very seriously and are working to investigate everything that happened so we can prevent anything like this from happening ever again."
An escaped jaguar has shined a light in a typically dark area of the Audubon Zoo: The Jaguar Jungle.
The animal's escape was discovered by a staff member about 7:20 a.m., officials said. That staff member secured himself inside a building and alerted a team to recapture the jaguar. Valerio was eventually sedated and resecured.
No humans were injured, but four alpaca, an emu and a fox were mauled and ultimately killed. Three other animals were hurt and are receiving "the best professional care out there," Burks said.
The behavior demonstrated by Valerio was not out of character for the animal described as an "apex predator." Jaguars are the largest species of cat native to North and South America and the third largest in the world.
The Audubon Zoo said it would be closed Saturday after an adult jaguar escaped its enclosure and killed several animals.
The zoo announced the incident in a press release Saturday morning.
"Certainly his behavior was not out of the order for that kind of an animal," Hamilton said. "He's just a normal jaguar as far as we're concerned."
The zoo was expected to reopen at 10 a.m. Sunday. Grief counselors would be brought in to speak with the staff, Hamilton said.
Audubon Zoo CEO Ron Forman said incoming visitors should not be concerned about zoo safety.
"The zoo has been here for 100 years and in that time period we've had over 100 million visitors ... we've never had an incident like this before," he said. "So I think, statistically, there's nothing to worry about, about the safety of coming to the zoo."
Forman noted one other incident of a jaguar escape about 15 years ago. In that incident the jaguar was quickly re-secured in its enclosure. He said he couldn't recall another incident of one zoo animal killing another.