Five lions managed to escape from their enclosure at an Australian zoo on Wednesday, triggering a brief emergency as authorities raced to contain them.
The zoo was immediately quarantined with a “code one” alert – a response involving a dangerous animal. Guests of the zoo’s “Roar and Snore” program were also quickly brought to safety.
The lions – four cubs and an adult male named Ato – escaped from the enclosure at Taronga Zoo in Sydney due to an “integrity issue with a containment fence”, the zoo said in a press release early Wednesday.
“The lions were observed in a small area adjacent to the main lion exhibit, where a six-foot fence separated them from the rest of the zoo,” Taronga Zoo Director Simon Duffy told a press briefing. hurry. The lions did not leave the zoo or the “adjacent” fenced area at any time, he said, according to Reuters.
Four of the five lions returned to their dens at the main exhibit while a cub was safely tranquilized by zoo staff, officials said. All animals are now safe and closely monitored in a holding area at the back of the house, they added.
“All zoo staff responded and acted quickly, and procedures and processes were followed as they should have been. As a result, the situation was under control within minutes,” Duffy said.
Video footage showed the emergency response to contain the lions was enacted within 10 minutes of the escape.
“They came running into the tent area saying ‘this is code one, get out of your tent, leave your things behind, run and come with us,'” Magnus Perri, a visitor who was camping the night with the zoo “Roar and Snore,” the program told local media, according to Reuters.
All zoo guests have been moved to a designated safe area until the lions are safely back in their enclosure. “It happened so fast, we were a little surprised. I think everyone thought it was like a drill,” Perri added.
No animals or humans were harmed during the lions’ short escape and the zoo subsequently opened as normal, officials said.
The zoo said a full review of the incident would later confirm exactly how the lions were able to get out of their main exhibit, which will remain closed for inspection until it is completely safe for guests to return.