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"Zookeepers Came Running Down Screaming": 5 Lions Escape Enclosure, Causing "Emergency Situation"

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Five lions at an Australian zoo had a brief taste of freedom on Wednesday but were back in their enclosure without a taste of any zoo visitors.

“An emergency situation occurred this morning at Taronga Zoo Sydney when five lions were located outside their enclosure,” the zoo said in a statement.

The animals were seen outside the enclosure at about 6:30 a.m., according to The Guardian.

The zoo operates an overnight stay program. The participants in the program were taken to safety.

“The alarm went off and the zookeepers came running down, screaming, ‘Code one, code one, everyone get out of the tents!’” participant Magnus Perri said.

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“We had to leave our belongings and they took us to a cabin to hide. We thought it was a drill until we heard on one of the staff’s radios that the lions had escaped. It was pretty shocking — imagine facing a lion. It was our worst nightmare,” he said.

“In the back of your mind, you’re always thinking, what would have happened if that lion came to us? We would have been killed.”

Perri said that he and his family were never actually in danger.

“In the moment, we were not scared. The staff were great and the kids thought it was something out of Jurassic Park. We felt protected,” he said.

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The zoo went into lockdown after the sighting. Police were summoned at 7.10 a.m. By 9 a.m., the lions were done with their adventure and were back in their usual home.

The zoo said a faulty fence was to blame.

“An initial review of this morning’s incident has confirmed that an integrity issue with a containment fence enabled five lions to temporarily exit their main exhibit,” the zoo said.

Simon Duffy, the zoo’s executive director of operations, said the lions were seen in a “small area adjacent to the main lion exhibit.”

“A six-foot fence separated them from the rest of the zoo,” he said. “The zoo has very strict safety protocols in place for such an incident and immediate action was taken.”

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One cub was tranquilized, but the others meandered back to their enclosure.

“All animals are now safe in their back-of-house exhibit and are being closely monitored. I would remind everyone that Taronga zoo itself has its own safety perimeter fence. So at no time did the lions exit that area or exit Taronga zoo,” Duffy said.

He said a safety inspection of the lions’ enclosure will be conducted.

The zoo has seven lions — Ato and Maya and their five cubs. Khari and Luzuko are the males; Malika, Zuri and Ayanna are the females. Maya and Ayanna sat out the adventure while the other five strolled about, the New York Post reported.

This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.

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