Two lions, two tigers, and one jaguar were initially reported to have broken out of their enclosures at a German zoo on Friday, prompting authorities to advise residents to stay indoors.
The animals were believed to have escaped from Eifel Zoo in Lünebach, western Germany after flooding caused by an overnight storm eroded the fences. The zoo was flooded when a river burst its banks during the storm.
Andreas Kruppert, the mayor of Arzfeld, a municipality situated near Eifel, said that the zookeepers lost track of the animals during the storm. However, the animals were found later during the day by a drone after the waters had receded, still in their cages.
Escaped Bear Shot Dead
A bear that did escape, however, had to be shot dead as a precaution to protect the public. Kruppert said that the bear fled its enclosure to save itself from the rising water,
"Emergency responders were already there and because the bear posed a serious threat to the people in the vicinity the bear sadly had to be shot," Kruppert said.
The 74-acre privately-owned zoo is home to about 400 animals, which include 60 exotic and native creatures. It also features many attractions, which include a cable car and a miniature village.
It was established in 1965 with only donkeys, a wild boar, and dogs. It is now visited by about 70,000 people per year.
Animals rarely escape from zoos but it happens. In 2015, a Red Panda from the Sequoia Park Zoo in Eureka, California escaped, prompting the zoo management to ask help from the public over concerns that the creature could be scared with an unfamiliar environment.
In 2016, a 4-year-old Amur leopard at Hogle Zoo In Utah escaped. An hour later, it was found sleeping on a high beam in a public zone just 2 feet from her exhibit.
That same year, an 18-year-old silverback gorilla also escaped from its enclosure inside a London zoo. The veterinarians had to tranquilize the animal to return it to its den.
Zoo animal escapes can be particularly dangerous if this involves predatory animals. Big cats such as lions, leopards, cheetahs, tigers, and jaguars are natural hunters and can pose serious threats to young children that they may see as a potential prey.
In 2015, a lion at a safari park near Johannesburg killed a tourist who was taking photos through an open window of the safari jeep.