Fence blamed for Taronga Zoo lion escape

The dramatic escape of five lions at Taronga Zoo has been blamed on the integrity of their enclosure’s fencing.

After reviewing the incident, where one adult lion and four cubs roamed outside of their exhibit before being contained on Wednesday, the Sydney confirmed an “integrity issue” with a containment fence led to the dramatic escape.

A full report will now be prepared for the NSW Department of Primary Industries, and lions will remain in a back-of-house holding area while a full review continues.

No people or animals were hurt as a result of the escape, and Taronga Zoo remains open.

The findings come after the lions were located outside their main enclosure at 6am on Wednesday, prompting evacuations of staff and visitors, which included a group of school children, to safe zones.

Taronga Zoo executive director Simon Duffy said that less than 10 minutes transpired between the lions exiting their main exhibit and the “full emergency response”.

Mr Duffy said the lions were still separated from the rest of Taronga Zoo by a six-foot fence, and “at no time” did the lions exit the zoo.

‘Scary’ family experience

For the zoo visitors enjoying Taronga Park’s ‘Roar and Snore’ package – which allows them to camp near the animal enclosures – their experience culminated in them running to a safe zone amid a “code one” (an incident involving a dangerous animal).

Magnus Perri told reporters he and his family of four were staying overnight in a tent as part of the Roar and Snore when an alarm sounded and zookeepers urged them to run to safety.

“They came running down the tent area saying that there’s a code one, get out of your tent, leave your belongings behind,” he said.

“They opened the door, everyone got in, they counted us, and they locked the door, and we were staying inside the building.”

Mr Perri said the visitors remained clueless to the incident unfolding outside and only heard of the escape by accident. 

“The guides had their radios on, and we heard them, and they said, ‘They’re still outside’, so we realised something is outside, and they said ‘It’s the lions’, so we’re like, ‘Oh, scary’,” he said.

– with AAP

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