Jaguar Mauls Zookeeper to Death at Denver Zoo

A zookeeper at the Denver Zoo died Saturday after she was mauled by a jaguar inside the animal's enclosure shortly before noon, according to police and zoo officials.

In a news release, the zoo said the zookeeper was attacked about 11:30 a.m. by a 140-pound, six-year-old male jaguar named Jorge who has been at the zoo for nearly two years.

Denver Police spokesman Sonny Jackson said the zookeeper later died from her injuries.

Visitors at the zoo were asked to leave the park after the attack. The zoo was closed for the day.

According to the zoo, after the mauling, the jaguar approached emergency teams caring for the injured zookeeper, and a zoo employee shot and killed the animal.

Jackson said police are investigating as a matter of routine.

The zookeeper was taken to Denver General Hospital. Her name was not immediately released.

The zoo says the public was never at risk during the incident.

Amy Sarno at the zoo's public relations office said zoo officials did not know how the mauling occurred or what led up to the incident.

Sarno said it was not immediately known if the zoo would be open on Sunday.

"Obviously, everyone is very upset," she said.

According to the zoo's Web site, the facility just added a 16-month-old female jaguar named Caipora in December. The female was to be paired with Jorge when she was old enough.

The Web site notes, "The jaguar is the third largest cat in the world behind the tiger and lion. Yet, they have the most powerful jaw of all the big cats."