Jacksonville Zoo 'Devastated' After Female Jaguar Is Killed by Male Jaguar in 'Terrible Mistake'

The Florida zoo's animal health team tried to intervene but was unable to save Zenta, a 21-year-old female jaguar

A female jaguar, 21-year old Zenta, was tragically killed by a male jaguar late Saturday at Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens.
Zenta, female jaguar. Photo: Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens

The Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens is mourning the death of a female jaguar who was attacked and killed by a younger male jaguar over the weekend.

In a press release, the zoo said that the female big cat, 21-year old Zenta, was killed by 12-year-old male Harry late Saturday in a holding complex at the Florida facility.

While zookeepers "tried frantically" to separate Zenta and Harry, they were unsuccessful. The animal health team was called to immobilize Harry, but Zenta was already dead from the attack before they arrived.

"Zenta's death is the result of a terrible mistake, and we are reviewing all aspects of this awful occurrence," Dan Maloney, the deputy zoo director for animal care, conservation, and wellness, said in the release. "Both jaguars were contained at all times and our team responded safely and swiftly."

Zenta came to Jacksonville in 2006 after she was rescued from a private zoo, and Harry was born at Jacksonville Zoo in 2009, according to the zoo.

Aug. 31, 2018 photo, patrons check out the early opening of the African Forest exhibit at the Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens in Jacksonville, Fla
Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens. Will Dickey/The Florida Times-Union via AP

"We are devastated by this sudden and sad event. Zenta will be sorely missed as she was a favorite of both staff and guest alike," added Maloney.

According to Maloney, the zoo is investigating the brutal attack in order to "mitigate this type of incident in the future."

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The Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens, which opened in 1914 and is located in northeast Florida, is home to over 2,000 animal species and 1,000 rare plants. The zoo is only one of seven in the U.S. to offer an animal wellness team, according to its website.

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