Jaguar escapes at New Orleans zoo, kills 6 animals

The Audubon Zoo in New Orleans is seen in June 2014

The Audubon Zoo in New Orleans is seen in June 2014

A jaguar killed six animals and injured three others when he escaped from his enclosure at a zoo in New Orleans.

Audubon Zoo said the 3-year-old male jaguar, named Valero, was spotted outside his enclosure by a zoo employee around 7 a.m.

Jaguars at the zoo are kept in a glass-fronted exhibit within "Jaguar Jungle", which houses other animals including the alpaca enclosure. No humans were hurt.

The news release from the Audubon Zoo called Saturday a "difficult day in the Audubon family" and said that the deaths of the animals were a "tragic loss". "We close the zoo today to help our team mourn".

An "after action review" is taking place to determine how the killer cat got free. One additional alpaca and two foxes were also injured in the incident, but survived and are being cared for by veterinarians, according to WDSU-TV. Officials believe it's the most serious incident the zoo has experienced in its 100-year history.

Valerio had escapsed from his enclosure at about 7.20am (1.20pm United Kingdom time) on Saturday - and he was sedated and taken back to his habitat in under an hour.

In a news conference Saturday, zoo officials insisted the facility was safe for the general public, even though they wouldn't say how the apex predator managed to escape and either kill or injure every alpaca on zoo property.

No people were injured, and the animal was secured in its night house, officials said.

During the escape, the zoo was closed, so there were no injuries to humans.

"The safety of our guests and our staff and our animals is our number one priority and we take this situation very seriously and are working to investigate everything that happened so we can prevent anything like this from happening again".

It was not immediately clear how the animal escaped.

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