Answers few in Denver Zoo jaguar investigation

By Felisa Cardona
Denver Post Staff Writer
Denver Post
Article Last Updated:02/28/2007 01:25:30 AM MST

As mourners gathered at a memorial service Tuesday for zookeeper Ashlee Pfaff, Denver Zoo officials said they did not know when the feline building where she was killed would reopen.

Pfaff, 28, was mauled to death Saturday by Jorge the jaguar, a 140-pound cat who came to the zoo from Bolivia.

A preliminary investigation showed that a door between Pfaff and Jorge’s enclosure was open. Because Pfaff was alone at the time, authorities don’t know why the door was open and why it was not locked.

Denver police are awaiting full autopsy results before they complete their investigation, spokesman Sonny Jackson said Tuesday.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture, the agency charged with licensing zoos, is sending an investigator to look into any animal welfare violations, said spokesman Darby Holliday.

Zoo officials said they are considering whether to bring in another jaguar. A necropsy determined that Jorge was a healthy animal.

Jorge was shot to death by a member of the zoo’s emergency-shoot team. The team first tried a fire extinguisher to get Jorge away from Pfaff. A tranquilizer dart would have taken several minutes to take effect.

Staff writer Felisa Cardona can be reached at 303-954-1219 or fcardona@denverpost.com.

http://www.denverpost.com/ci_5318785

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