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Australia’s Taronga Zoo locked down after lions escape from enclosure


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zoo in Australia went into lockdown on Wednesday when five lions managed to escape their enclosure.

Keepers at Sydney’s Taronga Zoo issued a “code one” alert and police were called after CCTV footage showed a male adult lion called Ato and four cubs outside the main exhibit area at 6.30am local time.

Guests staying overnight were rushed to safety as the lions managed to get within 100m of their accomodation, although the animals remained in an area separated from the rest of the zoo by a six-foot fence.

Staff tranquilised and returned one cub while the remaining four lions made their way back of their own accord.

Zoo staff inspect the lion enclosure after the escaped animals were contained

/ via REUTERS

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The zoo said its emergency response was enacted less than 10 minutes after the lions escaped the main exhibit area. The lions were confirmed to be back in their enclosure by 9am, local media reported.

Guests who were enjoying the zoo’s “Roar and Snore” experience told how staff rushed to their accommodation and instructed them to leave.

“They came running into the tent area saying, ‘this is a Code One, get out of your tent and run, come now and leave your belongings’,” Magnus Perri, one of the guests, told reporters as his family left the zoo.

The “Roar and Snore” experience costs up to 1,500 Australia dollars a night. Visitors are promised “an unforgettable overnight experience featuring intimate animal encounters, fascinating keeper talks, delicious food and safari-style accommodation with spectacular views of the Sydney Harbour,” according to the zoo’s website.

No injuries were reported to people or animals and the zoo opened as normal.

Roar and Snore guests were locked inside during the alert

/ SUPPLIED

“The zoo has very strict safety protocols in place for such an incident and immediate action was taken,” Taronga Zoo Executive Director Simon Duffy told a news conference.

Taronga Zoo’s lion enclosure is home to Ato and Maya and their five cubs – Khari and Luzuko who are male and Malika, Zuri and Ayanna who are female. Maya and Ayanna stayed in the enclosure while the others got loose.

The zoo said it did not know how the animals escaped, adding a formal review is under way.

In 2009, a lioness escaped its enclosure at Mogo Zoo, south of Sydney, and was shot dead.

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