Taronga Zoo: Sydney Zoo’s five lions escape exhibit

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After escaping from their enclosure, five lions caused a brief emergency at an Australian zoo.

The animals, one adult and four cubs, were spotted outside their exhibit at Taronga Zoo in Sydney around 6:30 a.m. local time on Wednesday (22:30 GMT Tuesday).

The zoo was placed under lockdown, and one cub had to be tranquilized, but all lions were secured within minutes, according to a spokesman. Nobody was hurt.

There has been no explanation for the escape.

However, zoo executive director Simon Duffy described the incident as a “significant incident” that would be investigated.

He told local media that the lions had entered a small area “adjacent” to their exhibit, about 100 meters from where guests were staying overnight at the zoo. At the time, the main zoo was closed.

“At no time did the lions exit that [adjacent] area or exit Taronga Zoo,” he said.

Mr Duffy added the small area was protected by a six-foot fence usually used to keep people at a safe distance, and the entire zoo was surrounded by a perimeter fence.

CCTV footage had shown that a keeper raised the alarm within 10 minutes of the escape, the zoo said.

According to Mr Duffy, staff acted quickly to relocate all people on the site to safe locations. Four of the lions “calmly returned” to their enclosure.

Mr Duffy added that the lion exhibit will remain closed until further inspections are performed to ensure that it is “100% safe.”

Animal escapes from Australian zoos are uncommon.

A lioness escaped its enclosure at Mogo Zoo, south of Sydney, in 2009, and had to be shot dead due to the threat it posed to the public.

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