Taronga Zoo: did 5 lions escape from enclosure in Sydney, Australia - have they been caught?

The incident prompted a code one alert and an emergency response

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An emergency lockdown was sparked at a zoo in Australia after five lions escaped from their enclosure. The big cats were spotted outside of their exhibit at Sydney’s Taronga Zoo, sparking widespread panic and concern.

But how were the lions able to escape - and have they been captured?

Here is everything you need to know.

What happened at Taronga Zoo Sydney?

At 6:30am local time on Wednesday (2 November), one lion and four cubs were spotted outside of their exhibit at the zoo. The incident triggered a code one alert, which is the zoo’s most urgent level, prompting an emergency response.

Zoo executive director Simon Duffy described the events as a “significant incident” and told local media outlets that the lions had made their way through to a small area adjacent to their enclosure - an area which was just 100m away from where guests were staying overnight as part of the Roar and Snore luxury experience.

Five lions escaped their enclosure at Taronga Zoo - leading to a code one alert (Getty Images)Five lions escaped their enclosure at Taronga Zoo - leading to a code one alert (Getty Images)
Five lions escaped their enclosure at Taronga Zoo - leading to a code one alert (Getty Images)

CCTV footage shows that a keeper had raised the alarm within 10 minutes of the incident occurring.

Duffy added: “At no time did the lions exit that [adjacent] area or exit Taronga zoo.”

Have the lions been caught - how did they escape?

A spokesperson for Taronga Zoo confirmed that all the lions were captured shortly after the escape and they were all secured within minutes of the incident occurring. Four of the lions calmly made their way back to the enclosure and one cub had to be tranquilised.

There were no injuries reported and Duffy confirmed that staff acted “quickly” to move all people on the site to safe locations.

Duffy confirmed that an investigation is currently taking place and that staff are working towards finding an explanation.

In a statement, Taronga Zoo said: “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 lions are now in a back-of-house holding area while a full review continues. A full report will now be prepared for the NSW Department of Primary Industries. Keepers and vets report all lions are doing well.

“Taronga Zoo remains open and is extremely grateful to its staff and the community for their support today.”

What have people said about the incident?

Many of the residents staying in the zoo overnight were awoken by the incident and were told to run for safety.

Speaking to 9 News Australia, Magnus Perri, one of the zoo’s guests, said: “The alarm went off and the zookeepers came running down, screaming code one, code one, everyone get out of the tents. 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 the radio that one of the lions had escaped. It was pretty shocking - imagine facing a lion - it was our worst nightmare.”

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