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Lion Captured After Roaming Free Near Rome, Italy

male lion head
A lion managed to escape from a circus and was captured in Ladispoli, a city near Rome. Credit: Airwolfhound / Flickr / CC-BY-SA-2.0

A lion that escaped from a circus in Ladispoli, Italy, about 25 miles (41km)  from Rome, had been roaming the small town for hours before being captured. The event unfolded on Saturday, November 11, causing a stir among local residents. The escape prompted immediate action from authorities and the reaction of animal rights activists.

Ladispoli Mayor Alessandro Grando, via his official Facebook page, announced the successful capture of the lion shortly after 10 p.m. local time on the same day. The escaped lion, named Kimba, had roamed the populated streets for at least five hours, triggering concern and confusion, various media sources report.

“The lion has been sedated and captured. It will now be handed over…,” Grando wrote, also expressing gratitude to the police, fire department, health authorities, and volunteers.

Grando also said he hopes the incident will raise awareness about the treatment of animals in circuses and help end their exploitation.

The incident unfolded at approximately 5 p.m. local time when the lion escaped, prompting immediate tracking efforts within the adjacent waterway. Circus personnel, with the support of law enforcement, initiated capture operations. Despite initial efforts, the lion managed to evade capture, reappearing in the town and causing further concern.

An animal handler, Rony Vassallo, informed the AFP news agency that eight-year-old Kimba posed no threat to the public. According to Vassallo, despite being in an unfamiliar environment with people, the lion exhibited no aggressive behavior and did not show any inclination to attack.

The circumstances of the escape are currently under investigation. It is reported that circus employees discovered a broken lock.

Operation to Capture the Lion

Videos shared on social media depict the lion wandering through Ladispoli’s streets. To facilitate capture, veterinarians employed a dart equipped with a geolocator, eventually locating and surrounding the lion near a school.

The recaptured lion appeared to be in good condition, though mildly frightened and experiencing mild hypothermia, CNN reports. The authorities are conducting an investigation into the incident.

The Organization for the Protection of Animals (OIPA) highlighted the incident as a safety concern and emphasized the discomfort experienced by animals in captivity for entertainment purposes. OIPA expressed hope for the introduction of laws banning circuses with animals.

Despite its legality in Italy, the use of animals in circuses has been prohibited in over twenty European countries.

Greece banned the use of all animals in circuses more than ten years ago in 2012. Moreover, it was the first country in Europe to take such action. The ban followed advocacy efforts by Animal Defenders International and the Hellenic Animal Welfare Fund.

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