Lions escape at Sydney’s Taronga zoo, campers rushed to safety

‘Significant’ incident at Taronga Zoo now under investigation as officials try to find out how the animals got out of their enclosure.

Ato, the male lion, standing on a wooden platform in his enclosure with city homes behind
Ato managed to get out of his enclosure at Taronga Zoo along with four of his cubs [File: Saeed Khan/AFP]

Sydney’s Taronga Zoo has rushed people camping at the park to safety after discovering five African lions had managed to escape their enclosure.

The zoo found the lions – a male adult named Ato and four cubs – outside their main exhibit area early on Wednesday morning.

“A six-foot fence separated them from the rest of the zoo,” Taronga said in a statement on its website.

“The zoo has strict safety protocols in place for such an incident and immediate action was taken,” it continued, and people on the site – including staff and guests on its “Roar and Snore” programme – were moved to “safe zones”.

Aerial view of the lions' enclosure
The lions escaped their enclosure early on Wednesday morning and the alarm was quickly raised [Nine Network via Reuters]

Alarms went off throughout the zoo, which sits on the North Shore of Sydney Harbour and is renowned for its views of the bridge and opera house.

“They came running into the tent area saying: ‘This is a Code One, get out of your tent and run, come now and leave your belongings,'” Magnus Perri told local media as his family left Taronga.

The zoo said it took about 10 minutes from the time the lions left the main exhibit, and the emergency response being enacted.

Taronga’s five lion cubs Khari, Luzuko, Malika, Zuri and Ayanna recently turned one year old. The female lion, Maya, remained within the enclosure with one of the cubs.

“This is a significant incident and a full review is now under way to confirm exactly how the lions were able to exit their main exhibit,” said the zoo’s executive director Simon Duffy.

Maya and one of her cubs
Maya remained in the enclosure with one of the cubs. The zoo is investigating how the others managed to escape [File: Saeed Khan/AFP]

There were no injuries to people or animals and the zoo opened as normal later on Wednesday.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies