A lioness escaped from her enclosure at Mogo Zoo in New South Wales, was seen “moving slowly” towards visitors and licking her lips, before being shot dead by keepers, Reuters reports.
What makes this different from a run of the mill lion-escapes-gets-killed story is the volume of hate mail subsequently received by zoo staff. Sally Padey, owner of the zoo, said she had received letters from people angered that Jamelia had been killed, rather than tranquillized and returned to confinement.
“I’ve never had to make that decision ever in my entire life, in a blink of an eye, and I did yesterday and everybody is safe. When you’ve got to make a split decision like I had to yesterday, especially with a lion that’s so very dear to me, it’s not easy,” Padey said.
Tranquillzing the animal was not an option, explained the zoo’s business manager John Appleby. Drugs would have taken about ten minutes to take effect in a lioness of Jamelia’s size.
“If we’d put a tranquilliser dart in her bum, believe me they get a little cranky about it, and then if she went into that public area and took 10 minutes to get put down, there is a huge risk,” Appleby told the Sydney Morning Herald, mixing tense, mood and number like a round of Martinis.