Killing spree: Jaguar escaped through hole after biting steel mesh fencing

The roof barrier in the jaguar's exhibit. Pic Audubon Nature Institute

The roof barrier in the jaguar's exhibit. Pic Audubon Nature Institute

Flowers and a sign are seen at the Alpaca exhibit at the Audubon Zoo in New Orleans on Monday.

The interlocking steel cables that form what looks like a hard net over the habitat meet Association of Zoos and Aquariums guidelines but zoo officials are now looking for stronger materials, Burks said.

"If the zoo had been open, the added protocol would have been for all other staff to help guests to get safely inside buildings and secured there", he said. He also said it's "conceivable" the cat might have been able to breach an outer perimeter and escape the zoo.

"I'm really proud of our team's emergency response to this and our effort to make sure it doesn't happen again", Burks said. But he stressed that the staff is trained to prevent such an occurrence. 'Any time any of our risky animals are outside of their exhibit, we're going to take action. 'This is by far the biggest tragedy we've had'. He and another staffer secured themselves in a safe building and radioed zoo staff.

Within 20 minutes, the jaguar was hit with tranquilizer darts and was safely recaptured.

Audubon Zoo initially said they were "devastated" by the loss of six animals following the attacks, but that three injured animals were under professional care.

They later announced that one alpaca named Daisy did not survive and two foxes, Copper and Rusty, later died.

Valerio was found to be in good health after an examination and will not be put down because he demonstrated normal predatory behaviour, officials said. 'Unfortunately, it was doing what jaguars do'.

An emu was among the nine animals killed in the weekend attack.

Audubon Institute tweeted on Sunday: 'This continues to be a sad time for the Audubon family. We appreciate the continued overwhelming support from the community. If you wish to drop off items to share condolences with our staff, please bring them to the front entrance of the Zoo'.

Audubon Zoo houses over 2,000 animals on its 58-acre property and has been in operation for over 100 years.

This is not the first time a jaguar has escaped its enclosure at Audubon.

It was not immediately clear how the animal escaped.