Fox is 9th casualty after jaguar's weekend escape at zoo

Larry Rivarde, 8, writes a note of condolence at a makeshift memorial outside the Audubon Zoo in New Orleans, Monday, July 16, 2018. The death of a wounded fox, Rusty, brings to nine the number of animals that have died as the result of the weekend escape of a jaguar from its enclosure at the zoo in New Orleans. The jaguar, Valerio, escaped his enclosure before the zoo opened Saturday morning and was captured less than an hour later. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)
Flowers and a sign is seen at the Alpaca exhibit at the Audubon Zoo in New Orleans, Monday, July 16, 2018. The death of a wounded fox brings to nine the number of animals that have died as the result of the weekend escape of a jaguar from its enclosure at the zoo in New Orleans. All five of the zoo's alpaca were killed. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)
A sign at the jaguar Jungle exhibit is seen at the Audubon Zoo in New Orleans, Monday, July 16, 2018. The death of a wounded fox brings to nine the number of animals that have died as the result of the weekend escape of a jaguar from its enclosure at the zoo in New Orleans. Audubon Zoo officials say on the zoo's website that Rusty, one of two foxes attacked by the big cat, died Monday. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)
A makeshift memorial is seen outside the Audubon Zoo in New Orleans, Monday, July 16, 2018. The death of a wounded fox brings to nine the number of animals that have died as the result of the weekend escape of a jaguar from its enclosure at the zoo in New Orleans. Audubon Zoo officials say on the zoo's website that Rusty, one of two foxes attacked by the big cat, died Monday. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)
An Emu is seen in its exhibit at the Audubon Zoo in New Orleans, Monday, July 16, 2018. The death of a wounded fox brings to nine the number of animals, including an emu, that have died as the result of the weekend escape of a jaguar from its enclosure at the zoo in New Orleans. Audubon Zoo officials say on the zoo's website that Rusty, one of two foxes attacked by the big cat, died Monday. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)
Visitors stop at the Jaguar Jungle exhibit at the Audubon Zoo in New Orleans, Monday, July 16, 2018. The death of a wounded fox brings to nine the number of animals that have died as the result of the weekend escape of a jaguar from its enclosure at the zoo in New Orleans. Audubon Zoo officials say on the zoo's website that Rusty, one of two foxes attacked by the big cat, died Monday. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)
Visitors look at the fox exhibit at the Audubon Zoo in New Orleans, Monday, July 16, 2018. The death of a wounded fox, Rusty, brings to nine the number of animals that have died as the result of the weekend escape of a jaguar from its enclosure at the zoo in New Orleans. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

NEW ORLEANS — A little girl's teary-eyed self-portrait, stuffed toys and a stick of taffy from a local street vendor, were among the items left at the entrance to the Audubon Zoo in New Orleans on Monday — a makeshift memorial for nine animals killed by a jaguar that escaped its enclosure two days earlier.

Zoo officials announced the ninth animal death Monday: a wounded fox named Rusty.

No people were injured when Valerio, a 3-year-old male jaguar, escaped Saturday morning before the zoo's scheduled opening. The big cat was captured within an hour. But the eventual animal death toll was three foxes, five alpacas and an emu.

Grief counseling was provided for zoo staff and officials encouraged the offering of notes at the zoo's entrance.

The words "We are very sorry" were scrawled on the child's drawing.

How Valerio escaped remained under investigation.

"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," a Monday afternoon zoo news release said. "This is our initial finding, but we are still doing an investigation."

The zoo never opened Saturday. Large crowds were on hand for Sunday's reopening — with the jaguar exhibit closed indefinitely.

Monday's visitors seemed, at most, only mildly concerned for their safety.

"When you have predators, it's going to happen," said Quinn Thacker, a tourist from Woodbridge, Virginia. "But it's kind of scary that it did."

"We heard about the incident, but we figured that it would be safer than less safe today, because they definitely don't want this to happen again," said J.J. Bol, a visitor from Houston.

"So, we're going to just go have a good time, right?" he added, laughing.

In a Monday afternoon news release the zoo said officials have examined the Audubon's other large carnivore exhibits and found "nothing of concern."

"Our jaguars are being housed behind the scenes in a secure night house until our investigation has concluded and repairs are made," the statement said. "We do not currently have a timeline of when the exhibit will reopen."

___

This version corrects the quote from the child's picture to show that it said "We are very sorry." An earlier version of this report incorrectly said two foxes were attacked instead of three.

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