Escaped circus lion roams Italian streets for six hours before being captured

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A lion roamed the streets of an Italian seaside town before being captured and returned to the circus it escaped from, local authorities say.

Videos circulating on social media showed eight-year-old lion Kimba walking through the streets of Ladispoli, west of Rome, for five hours before the alert was raised.

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Ladispoli mayor Alessandro Grando released a statement advising residents to remain indoors while a team of local and state police officers, circus staff and the Carabinieri police force search for the feline.

It wasn’t until the sixth hour that Kimba was shot with a dart with a tranquilizer and a geolocator attached.

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Authorities are investigating how the lion managed to escape its metal enclosure.

“What happened is very strange… All we can say is that a lion does not have the ability to open a latch and break a lock,” Rony Vassalo, owner of the “Rony Roller” circus, told Reuters.

In an updated Facebook post, Vassalo told the mayor that the incident was a potential case of sabotage.

“We can’t risk such circumstances happening again,” Grando said.

Live circus animals have long been banned in over 20 European countries however Italy is not one of them.

Grando is in favour of implementing such a ban.

“I hope this episode can raise some conscience, and that we can finally put an end to animal exploitation in circuses,” the mayor said in a statement.

He asked council experts in a Facebook post to inquire whether there were legal grounds to revoke the circus’ permit.

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