Jacksonville Zoo says death of a jaguar by another jaguar was likely caused by human error

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — A review of procedures is underway at the Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens after the tragic death of a long time resident, Zenta the jaguar.

“We haven’t experienced this consequence before,” said Dan Maloney, the deputy zoo director for animal care.

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The 21-year-old female jaguar was killed by a larger male jaguar named Harry.

It all happened Saturday when keepers noticed Harry likely swallowed a piece of firehose he had been chewing on.

“They were bringing him in to get a closer look,” said Maloney.

But that’s when Maloney said a staff member made a mistake.

“She was in the same holding complex but not sharing the same space and the door was mistakenly opened between Zenta and Harry,” he said.

Staff members tried their best to separate the animals through the mesh but Zenta had already died when the animal health team arrived.

Maloney said neither animal had ever interacted with each other.

He said Harry is considered a good animal.

“He just behaved the way a jaguar would behave, so there’s no consequence here. We’re saddened by the loss. It’s an awful and tragic situation, but we don’t blame Harry,” said Maloney.

The zoo is now looking into making sure this doesn’t happen again.

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“We’re looking at every step. It looks really simple on paper, but we want to see if there’s anything that we can do to improve the situation,” said Maloney.

A couple of staff members witnessed the killing. They’ll have access to counseling if they need it.

Harry will remain living at the zoo.