A Roaring Good Time Camping at the Zoo

5 lions escaped from their encloser at Taronga Zoo in Sydney, Australia early Wednesday morning leading to a brief lockdown as zookeepers attempted to corral the big cats and get them back into their den without any casualties.

This certainly put a damper on the “Roar and Snore” event happening on the zoo grounds, where guests were camping out and taking in the spectacular sights and sounds.

The culprits

The Taronga Zoo website described the event as “an unforgettable overnight experience featuring intimate animal encounters, delicious foods, and safari-style accommodations.

Certainly unforgettable, as little did the guests know how intimate it would actually be.

The site goes on to mention some of night’s activities:

“Experience an exclusive Taronga night safari… with the chance to see some of Taronga’s favorite animals up close”

“Unwind in our comfortable safari-style tents, falling asleep to the sounds of the Zoo”

“Join feeding time and close encounter sessions where you will form a special bond with our animals,”

Certainly a close encounter, indeed. And not the best look for Taronga when you realize that most of the guests were almost a major part of that ‘feeding time’.

I, for one, am not a major proponent of zoos as a whole.

Sure, some of them do good – but I think for the most part zoos feel kind of sad when you see these exotic animals stuck in their small jail cell like hardened criminals.

That’s why whenever a zoo story like this comes out, I side with the animals.

“Oh, the caged animal behaved like an animal and refused to stay in the incredibly confined space you forced it to live in? Good.”

Obviously, I am glad nobody was harmed in this incident – but I think it’s always a good gut check.

Not just for the zoo. But for the families that decided it was a good idea to camp out at the zoo overnight.

I am sure some poor sucker dragged his wife and children promising a magical night sleeping amongst the wild animals – and what he got instead was a memory that will scar his children forever, and one that his wife will never let him live down.

I actually used to hold a similar event when I would play Zoo Tycoon on the PC back in the day.

A bit more impromptu… but I would open on the lion enclosure and see how many guests they could eat before the park rangers put them in boxes.

Good fun.

Apparently this time around the escape was due to the fastening of a mesh ‘lion-proof’ fence failing.

Couple thoughts:

  1. Mesh? Really? That’s all that is separating the lions from the tasty humans?
  2. I don’t think the fence was as lion-proof as they thought it was.
  3. Rumor is the zookeepers also found a dull nail file near the enclosure, but this is unsubstantiated.

From the follow-up report, it was good to see the Zoo gave themselves a pat on the back for the handling of the situation – they confirmed it was less than 10 minutes between the lions escaping the exhibit and the emergency response being enacted.

Less than 10 minutes… not bad.

Just a couple of minutes of lions unknowingly stalking around the zoo quietly while school children slept in nearby tents.

Gotta imagine who ever the security guy was watching the lions got fired after that.

Or maybe it was an inside job…?

Anyways, leave it to an Aussie zoo-goer though to give the perfect interview answer to sum it all up: “It was fun and scary… they nearly kept us in for two hours.”

Nothing like some good fun at the zoo, eh?

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