Visitors mourn loss of animals, remain supportive of Audubon Zoo

Visitors mourn loss of animals, remain supportive of Audubon Zoo

NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) - A memorial of flowers and photocopies of social media posts grew outside the Audubon Zoo Monday in response to a deadly attack by an escaped jaguar Saturday that left nine other animals dead. Initial findings of a zoo investigation indicate that the jaguar may have escaped by damaging the enclosure.

No humans were hurt.

The zoo released the following statement:

"Our initial findings have pointed to the break in the stainless steel cable barrier on the roof of the exhibit that potentially allowed enough space for the jaguar to escape. This is our initial finding but we are still doing an investigation.

"I'm disappointed that he's not out here right now, but I understand they have to make the space safer, so it's all good. We weren't afraid to come here today," said Gloria O'Connor.

Two days after the Valerio the jaguar escaped from his enclosure, O'Connor came to the zoo with her grandson, who is a fan of the foxes.

"I miss all the animals that were hurt, and especially Copper," said Brandon Villemarette.

Copper was one of the three foxes that did not survive injuries from the attack.

"Copper is one of the foxes who are here…I like Copper so much because thinking about when the jaguar was lost, I really thought about how the animals felt and how Copper is a fox and I like foxes," said Vilemarette.

Some out-of-towners visiting the zoo had heard of the weekend tragedy.

"It's horrible, just horrible," said Ellen Spielman.

Zoo workers said Valerio is being kept in his nighttime space.

Many visitors to the zoo Monday said they had no concerns about being there.

"No, he's behind the scenes now, and they'll figure out how he got out and it'll be good," said Mike Walton.

The area where the alpacas normally roam was empty.

"It's sad that the animals died, but I read the zookeeper's statement that it was just jaguars being jaguars and I think that's unfortunate that whatever happened, but it didn't scare us away today," said zoo visitor Holle Brayer.

No animals were in the space dedicated to the foxes.

Visitors to Audubon Zoo said they feel for the staffers, who must continue to work through their pain.

"I feel badly for them, I do. But it's a beautiful zoo, and people shouldn't be scared to come," said Spielma.

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