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Jaguar Mauling Still Under Investigation

DENVER (AP) - A fatal jaguar attack on a Denver Zoo keeper was "a tragic accident," though it remained a mystery why the animal's cage door was open, according to a police report.

Investigators found no evidence of a crime in the February death of Ashlee Pfaff, 28, and closed its case, according to a 14-page police report obtained by the Rocky Mountain News.

The 140-pound jaguar named Jorge got into an employee access hallway and then pounced on Pfaff. Officials were unsure of what Pfaff was doing at the time of the attack.

Zoo officials found no faulty doors, locks or gates and told a homicide detective "they had no reason to believe what happened to (zookeeper Ashlee) Pfaff was more than a tragic accident," according to the report.

An autopsy found Pfaff died of a broken neck and had extensive internal injuries.

Initial reports said the jaguar was shot and killed when it approached others trying to rescue Pfaff, but the police report said the cat survived the gunshot and was then tranquilized with a dart.

The report said a zoo staffer then euthanized the cat by cutting open a jugular vein, apparently because he was unable to find a suitable vein to inject with euthanizing drugs.

Zoo spokeswoman Amy Sarno said Tuesday zoo staff "made every attempt to save the jaguar" but determined it was mortally wounded from the gunfire and decided to euthanize it.

Sarno said zoo officials had not seen the police report.

Pfaff's death is still being investigated by the U.S. Agriculture Department, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration and the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, a zoo accrediting agency.

(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)


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