Five lions escape enclosure at Australian zoo, sparking emergency

Nov. 2 (UPI) -- Officials at an Australian zoo have launched in investigation after five lions momentarily escaped their enclosure Wednesday, sparking an emergency situation.

The incident occurred Wednesday morning at the Taronga Zoo, located along the shores of Sydney harbor.


Park officials said that one adult lion and four cubs were found outside their main exhibit at about 6:30 a.m. Wednesday.

The lions were spotted in an area adjacent to their main exhibit and separated from the rest of the zoo by a six-foot containment fence, whose purpose is to keep the public back from the lion exhibit.

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The zoo enacted a emergency response within 10 minutes of the lions exiting its enclosure, officials said.

Simon Duffy, executive director of the Taronga Zoo, told reporters during a press conference that all people on site when the incident occurred were moved to so-called designated safe zones.

"This is a significant incident. A full review is now underway to confirm exactly how the lions were able to exit their main exhibit," he said.

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Four of the lions returned to their enclosure on their own, requiring zoo staff to only tranquilize one of the cubs, he said.


"All animals are now safe in their back-of-house exhibit and are being closely monitored," he added, stating the emergency lasted less than 10 minutes.

In a 5 p.m. update, the zoo said an initial review confirmed that the lions exited their enclosure due to an "integrity issue" with a containment fence.

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"A full report will now be prepared for the [New South Wales] Department of Primary Industries," it said.

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