A JAGUAR escaped from its zoo enclosure and slaughtered seven animals in a terrifying hour-long killing spree in the US.

The big cat, named Valerio, was sedated he after he killed four alpacas, one emu and two foxes, and badly mauled three other creatures, The Sun reports.

Despite the horrific rampage, zoo vet Frank Burks told reporters Valerio would not be euthanised.

"Nothing’s going to happen to the jaguar itself. Unfortunately, it was doing what jaguars do," Mr Burks said.

Officials said he was spotted by a staff member roaming freely inside Audubon Zoo, in New Orleans, around 7.20am yesterday morning.

Eventually veterinarians managed to prepare tranquillisers and sedated him.

Jaguars at the Audubon Zoo are kept inside a glass-fronted enclosure inside its "Jaguar Jungle" exhibit.

Also kept in this area are the alpacas, giant anteaters, spider monkeys, bats, tropical frogs, monkeys and tarantulas.

A zoo statement read: "Our staff continue to mourn the loss of our animals. An investigation is underway and we will release information when available. Initial findings concluded keeper error was not a factor in this incident.

"We are mourning the loss of six animals that did not survive and three animals injured (one alpaca named Daisy and two foxes called Copper and Rusty) that are under professional animal care.

"The names of the alpaca that did not survive were Noel, Micia, Alexandria, and Lil Melody. "The fox was named Maggie Mae and the emu was called Elmo.

"The team responded immediately to the incident. Veterinarians had to prepare tranquillisers and position themselves to get a good line of sight. Once darted, the jaguar was sedated within minutes.

"We are still investigating how this happened. From our initial inspection, it appears the roof of the habitat was compromised.

"We are still investigating, and no animals will be housed in this enclosure until the investigation and repairs are completed."

According to AP, this was not the first time a jaguar escaped its enclosure at Audubon.

In 2001, a 70-pound cub named Mulac got loose for about ten minutes before he was brought down with a tranquilliser dart. No animals or humans were injured in that escape.