Zoo Goes on Lockdown After Five Lions Escape Their Enclosures

by Sean Griffin
(Photo by SAEED KHAN/AFP via Getty Images)

A dramatic scene occurred at the Taronga Zoo in Syndey, Australia earlier this morning. At 7:30 am on Wednesday morning (in Australia’s time), a Code One was issued after five lions escaped from their enclosure.

The lions escaped just a few feet from an area where tourists stay in tents as part of the zoo’s “Roar and Snore” experience.

All staff rushed to a “safe haven” away from the animals when the warning was issued.

Code One alarms are reserved for when a ‘dangerous animal’ has escaped or is causing an alarming situation. 

However, it remains unclear how the lions managed to escape the enclosure. The Code One alarm also triggered a huge response from police. 

Helicopter footage captured some of the morning’s chaos. The scene below shows zookeepers and dozens of police inside the lion enclosure. The video appears to show them inspecting a hole in the fence. 

Taronga Zoo said in a statement it would open as normal today since the lions had been caught.

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

Police confirmed the zoo was “managing the situation on its own.” Luckily, no animals or humans were harmed in the incident.

Lions Escape Taronga Zoo in Australia But Are Eventually Recaptured

The lions escaped their enclosure before the tourist attraction opened its gates for the day. Only workers were present at the time.

Taronga Zoo’s James Dalziel said the Code One was the zoo’s highest alert. However, they said it was “all over pretty quickly.”

He would not confirm whether tranquilizer darts were used. However, he remarked that “highly trained staff” had been involved in the lions’ recapture.

The chimpanzees, giraffes and zebras exhibits reside just feet away from the lion enclosure. The Taronga Zoo welcomed a litter of five African lion cubs to its savannah enclosure back in August. 

Below lies a timeline breakdown of the incidents at the zoo today.

7.30am: The Code One lockdown alarm sounds in the zoo and all staff, apart from lionkeepers, are ordered to hide in ‘safe havens’.

8.28am: 2GB Sydney radio host Ben Fordham breaks the news Taronga Zoo is in lockdown after the escape of four lions.

8.52am: Taronga Zoo releases a statement confirming the incident which states five lions escaped but are back in their enclosures.

Taronga Zoo is a zoo located in Sydney, New South Wales, Australia, in the suburb of Mosman. It lies on the shores of Sydney Harbor.

It was officially opened on October 7, 1916. Taronga Zoo Sydney is managed by the Zoological Parks Board of New South Wales, under the trading name Taronga Conservation Society, along with its sister zoo, the Taronga Western Plains Zoo in Dubbo.