Lions at Sydney’s Taronga Zoo escape their enclosure, alarming guests

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Animal lovers who signed up for a special night at Sydney’s Taronga Zoo found themselves with a closer encounter than expected after five African lions escaped.

After watching the sun go down over historic Sydney Harbour, guests on the ‘Roar and Snore’ experience at Taronga Zoo lay back in their safari-style tents, lulled by the sounds of nearby animals. Shortly after dawn on Wednesday, however, they were rushed awake by zoo staff, who rushed them.

“They came running into the tent area saying, ‘It’s a Code One, get out of your tent and run, come now and leave your things behind,'” guest Magnus Perri, told local media as he and his family left the zoo. “… They opened the door [to a building]everyone came in, they counted us and they closed the door.

At first, the guests thought it was a drill, but they soon realized something more serious was wrong, Perri said. “We realized, ‘Okay, there’s something out there – what is it?’ And they said, ‘Ah, it’s the lions.’ So we were like, ‘Ooh, scary!’ ”

Video footage shows Ato, an adult male, and four of his yearling cubs escaped to an area next to the main exhibit.

While they had crossed a fence, they remained separated from the rest of the zoo by a second fence which the zoo describes as “a containment fence for people” and a “safety barrier”. This fence is six feet high – although some lions are known to jump at a height of more than 11 feet.

Fortunately for zoo staff and visitors, four of the five lions “calmly” returned to their den, while the remaining lion cub was safely tranquilized and returned to the den, Taronga Zoo said in a statement. .

“We have since reviewed the video footage and have confirmed that it was less than 10 minutes between the lions exiting the main exhibit and the emergency response,” the zoo said, adding that he regularly organizes security drills to prepare for such scenarios. .

An initial investigation found an “integrity issue” with a containment fence was to blame, and the animals were moved to a secure holding area pending a full examination.

Police had also been called to the zoo, with commissioner Karen Webb telling local media: “It’s not very often we get called to lions on the loose.”

No injuries were reported and the zoo was able to open normally on Wednesday.

This is not the first time an animal has escaped from the Toronga Zoo: in January 2021, a chimpanzee was briefly seen sitting outside his enclosurebefore – like most lions – deciding to go back inside.

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