Posted on 02nd November 2022 by Media Relations
Statement update - 1/12/2022 12.00pm
CCTV footage from Taronga Zoo shows how five lions – four cubs and one adult male – left and later returned to their exhibit on the morning of 2 November.
The lions played and interacted with the fence before the first cub was able to squeeze underneath the fence. One by one, three cubs followed with adult male lion Ato exiting last.
Lioness Maya and cub Ayanna, who chose to remain in the exhibit, were recalled into their dens by carnivore keepers.
The five lions calmly investigated within metres of their main exhibit, before actively trying to find their way back under the fence as lioness Maya and keepers began calling for them.
The cubs and father Ato made several attempts to re-enter the exhibit, and male cub Luzuko was the first to successfully do so. He was followed shortly after by female cub Zuri and male cub Khari.
Female cub Malika was tranquilised by Taronga’s emergency response team and later transported back to the dens.
With encouragement from keepers, Ato returned to the exhibit before making his way into the dens to be reunited with his pride.
Taronga’s review of the lion incident is ongoing, and an independent, specialist forensic engineer is still conducting detailed investigations on the failure and the complex mesh fencing system. Their review will also advise on necessary repairs.
The lions will continue to remain in an outdoor, back-of-house habitat pending findings of the specialist engineering review, and at this stage, will not be back in their main exhibit before Christmas. More updates will be provided when a timeline for repairs has been confirmed.
Statement update - 10/11/2022 3.00pm
Taronga’s review of the lion incident last week is ongoing. Preliminary independent engineering advice has confirmed that swages (clamps that join wire cables together) failed, enabling a lacing cable that connects the fence mesh to a tension cable to unravel. The lions were then able to create and squeeze through a gap.
The preliminary review has recommended the engagement of an independent tensile-structure engineer to conduct detailed investigations and provide specialist advice on the failure and repair.
The ongoing review also found that while inside their exhibit, the lions played and interacted with the fence for approximately 20 minutes before four cubs, and later adult male Ato, were able to breach it. Lioness Maya and one cub chose to remain in the exhibit.
Lioness Maya and the cub who chose to remain in the exhibit were recalled into their dens by keepers.
The emergency response including staff in multiple vehicles was established to monitor and control the situation. This enabled the keepers to use their relationships with the lions, as well as their training for such incidents, to calmly call the lions back to their exhibit, ensuring a peaceful and safe outcome for all people and animals.
The four other cubs and adult male lion appeared to remain calm and investigated the other side of the main containment fence, remaining within metres of their exhibit, before actively trying to find their way back under the fence.
While trying to find an access back into the exhibit, two of the cubs moved past a secondary fence within the zoo. One cub made its own way back into the exhibit, while the other was safely tranquilised and later returned to the dens.
Taronga will continue to review the incident and share more information in due course. The lions will continue to remain in an outdoor, back-of-house holding area pending the specialist engineering advice.
Statement update - 04/11/2022 5.00pm
While we await the full engineering report, early indications suggest that the lions were able to exit the exhibit when fastenings of the mesh wire fence failed.
This opening has now been secured, however the lions will not be back out on their main exhibit while we await further engineering advice.
This advice will guide us on any further repairs or reinforcements needed. We would then seek approval from the NSW Department of Primary Industries before returning the lions to their main exhibit. Our absolute priority is to ensure the safety of our people and guests and the welfare of our animals.
While the Zoo’s intention is to fully complete all works necessary as quickly as possible, the exact timing of the works schedule is dependent on the expert advice we receive.
In the interim the lions will remain in a back-of-house area. The lions remain well and appear to have had no adverse reaction as a result of this event.
Again, we thank the public and Taronga’s community for their support. We also acknowledge again the quick and professional response by our staff and the exemplary cooperation of guests.
The Zoo and its experiences remain open.
Statement update - 02/11/2022 5.00pm
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.
Statement update - 02/11/2022 12.00pm
At 6:30am this morning, five lions – one adult and four cubs - were located outside their main exhibit.
The lions were observed in a small area adjacent to the main exhibit, where a six-foot fence separated them from the rest of the zoo.
The zoo has strict safety protocols in place for such an incident and immediate action was taken. We regularly conduct drills to ensure we are prepared.
All persons on site were moved to safe zones. Four of the lions calmly returned to their dens, and one cub was safely tranquilised. The cub is now awake and well.
All animals are now in their back-of-house exhibit and are being closely monitored.
All Zoo staff acted swiftly, and procedures and processes were followed as they should have been. As a result, the situation was under control within minutes.
We have since reviewed video footage, and we have confirmed it was less than 10 minutes between the lions exiting the main exhibit, and the emergency response being enacted.
This is a significant incident, and a full review is now underway to confirm exactly how the lions were able to exit their main exhibit.
Taronga would like to thank all staff and guests who were on site this morning who acted calmly and ensured a successful outcome for all.
Statement update - 02/11/2022 9.00am
An emergency situation occurred this morning at Taronga Zoo Sydney when five lions were located outside their enclosure.
The Zoo has strict safety protocols in place for such an incident.
All persons on site were moved to safe zones and there are no injuries to guests or staff.
All animals are now in their exhibit where they are being closely monitored.
The Zoo will be open as normal today. Further details will be provided when possible.