The incident occurred at 7:20 am local time when Valerio, a 3-year-old jaguar, escaped from its enclosure. There were no human injuries. The jaguar was darted and within a few minutes began to go to sleep. The animal was then taken to his night holding area and by about 8:20 this morning he was safely inside the building.
“In over a 100-year period, we’ve never had any incident like this,” said Ron Forman, the president, and CEO of Audubon Nature Institute at a press conference on Saturday. “This is by far the biggest tragedy we’ve had.”
The zoo also stated that they have practices in place that are meant to prevent these incidents.
“We receive inspections a few times a year from Association of Zoos and Aquariums since 1981,” Forman said.
Three other animals were injured and are currently in immediate care, according to the zoo’s doctor, Frank Burks. All of their alpaca population were hurt or killed in this incident.
“The jaguar will not be euthanized”, Joel Hamilton, vice president and general curator at the zoo, said. “Unfortunately, it was doing what jaguars do.”
The 58-acre zoo is 100 years old and houses 2,000 animals. An internal investigation is examining how the animal escaped out of his quarters and the Audubon Zoo is set to reopen Sunday, July 15, at 10 am.