Five lions escaped from their enclosure in an Australian zoo, sparking a brief emergency, the BBC reported.

Eyewitnesses saw the animals – one adult and four cubs – outside their exhibit at Sydney’s Taronga Zoo on Wednesday, around 6:30 p.m. local time.

A spokesperson for the zoo said it was put in lockdown and one cub was tranquillised but all lions were secured within minutes.

No-one was injured, he added.

Although no explanation for the escape has been given, the zoo executive director – Simon Duffy – called it a “significant incident” that would be investigated.

He told local media the lions had entered a small area “adjacent” to their exhibit – about 100m from where guests were staying at the zoo overnight and that the main zoo was closed at the time.

“At no time did the lions exit that [adjacent] area or exit Taronga Zoo,” he said, adding that the small area was protected by a six-foot fence used to keep people at a safe distance and the entire zoo was surrounded by a perimeter fence.

A CCTV footage of the incident showed that a keeper raised the alarm within 10 minutes of the animals’ escape, the zoo said.

Staff responded quickly to move all people on the site to safe locations, according to Duffy. Four of the lions “calmly made their way back” to their enclosure.

The lion exhibit will remain closed until further inspections to make sure it is “100% safe,” Duffy added.

According to the BBC, animal escapes at Australian zoos are rare.

In 2009, a lioness escaped its enclosure at Mogo Zoo, south of Sydney, and had to be shot dead because of the danger it posed to the public, the outlet added.


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