The residents of the quiet town of Lünebach in Germany on the border with Luxembourg and Belgium suddenly found themselves in the middle of a safari as two lions, two tigers and a jaguar escaped from the local zoo yesterday.
After residents were advised to stay indoors, zoo officials used a drone to survey the area, eventually finding the animals within the zoo compound. A bear, who had also escaped the Eifel zoo, was shot dead. The animals were forced to flee after a flash flood damaged their enclosures.
The floods, which resulted from the overnight thunderstorms, greatly affected the zoo, which is situated on a riverbank. Local broadcast channel SWR mistakenly reported that lions and pumas had broken free, but police determined that the escaped animals were two lions, two tigers and a jaguar.
The search was carried out by local police, firefighters and veterinarians, who reported that the animals were back "in their cages" after they were found. The zoo, located on 70 acres, is owned by the Wallpott family, and is home to 400 animals. It was founded in 1965 and originally only featured dogs, donkeys and a wild boar. The zoo is currently visited by 70,000 people a year.
Two years ago, two lions escaped a zoo in Leipzig in eastern Germany. When found, one was shot dead and the other was recaptured. Last year, a bear that fled the Osnabrück Zoo was killed, and in 2015, an orangutan that escaped the Duisburg Zoo was shot dead. Also in 2015, in Tbilisi, the capital of Georgia, severe flooding at the zoo forced tigers, bears, wolves, and lions, as well as a massive hippo to flee. In total, 300 animals were lost to the floods, while many roamed the streets for days.
Today’s incident created a stir on social media with some lamenting that these exotic animals were kept in cages, while others expressed sympathy for the bear that was shot. The escape also inspired some jokes, such as @scottyesquire tweeting that “2 tigers, 2 lions a jaguar and a bear have escaped from a zoo during flooding in western Germany. Authorities want to question a man seen in the area with an ark #lunebach #germany”