- Five lions escaped from their enclosure at Taronga Zoo in Sydney on Wednesday, zoo officials said in a press release.
- Guests who were staying in the zoo under the “Roar and Snore” overnight program were led to safety by staff.
- Four eventually made their own way back to the den, while the remaining lion had to be tranquilized.
Five lions at Sydney’s Taronga Zoo slipped out of their enclosures on Wednesday morning, triggering a safety alert, per a statement released by zoo officials.
Guests who were sleeping in tents nearby as part of the zoo’s “Roar and Snore” overnight stay program were awakened shortly after dawn by staff who rushed them to safety, Magnus Perri, one of the guests, told 9 News Australia.
“They came running down to the tent area saying, ‘There’s a Code One, get out of your tents, leave your belongings behind, run, come with us,'” Perri said. “They opened the door, everyone got in, they counted us, and they locked the door and we were inside the building.”
The safety alert came after an adult male lion named Ato and four cubs were found outside their main enclosure, per the zoo’s statement. The lions were still in an area protected by a six-foot fence.
“They did breach the containment fence, we don’t have the exact details of how and why that occurred,” Simon Duffy, the executive director of Taronga Zoo, said at a news conference, per ABC Australia. “We received video footage and we confirmed that it was less than ten minutes between the lions exiting their main exhibit and the full emergency response being enacted.”
Four of the lions eventually made their way back to their enclosures on their own, while the remaining cub was tranquilized and returned by zookeepers, per the statement. There were no injuries reported and the zoo was able to operate as normal. A full review is also underway to investigate the cause of the incident.
This is not the first time an animal has tried to escape at Taronga Zoo. In January 2021, a contractor spotted a chimpanzee sitting outside of its enclosure, per the Sydney Morning Herald. While staff members were activated to secure the area, the chimpanzee returned to the enclosure on its own.
Taronga Zoo did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment.