Zoos can be a great place to see animals. Their displays rely on a careful balance between letting visitors see animals up-close and unobstructed, and keeping enough of a safe distance to protect both the humans and the animals.
It is a bad idea under any circumstances to break the rules and enter an animal’s enclosure, even if it’s a “safe” animal… which makes one woman’s decision to hop a fence to get face-to-face with a lion even more insane.
The Bronx Zoo is home to a den of African lions. Visitors have the opportunity to view these majestic animals in a natural but safe way.
“At this exhibit, there’s low walls, so you want to get close enough to see what’s going on, but you don’t want to have these high fences in front of all the exhibits,” zoo visitor John Rubbo told CBS New York. “It takes the fun out of the zoo.”
But one visitor took advantage of the low walls, and in a bizarre decision jumped the fence to enter the enclosure, leaving herself exposed to the giant jungle cats.
The woman uploaded videos of her stunt to Instagram on September 28, apparently proud of her “fearless” stunt.
“It’s funny Cause you hear Grown Men Scared,” she wrote. “Only People wasn’t scared was me and The Children… I REALLY HAVE NO FEAR OF NOTHING BREATHING!!”
But there’s a low fence between brave and stupid, and people were quick to point out that jumping into a lion’s den is an obviously terrible idea.
“Greetings from Africa,” one comment reads. “You really should not be doing that. Speaking from experience.”
In the videos, you can hear onlookers expressing their concern, trying to talk her back into safety.
Not only does the woman stay in the enclosure, she actively tries to attract the lion’s attention by waving her arms and approaching him.
The lion, however, does not attack, or even have any kind of aggressive reaction. He simply looks around (as if turning to the other lions to say “Are you seeing this?”)
Based on her Instagram captions, the woman apparently thinks this peaceful encounter was due to some spiritual understanding between her and the lion. But make no mistake: she was in serious danger.
“This action was a serious violation and unlawful trespass that could have resulted in serious injury or death,” the Bronx Zoo said in a statement. “Barriers and rules are in place to keep both visitors, staff and animals safe. We have a zero tolerance policy on trespass and violation of barriers.”
Not only did she set a bad example for the kids watching, she put the animal in danger. If the lion had perceived her as a threat and attacked, or even if the woman seemed to be in peril, the lion may have been put down, similar to the controversial shooting of Harambe the gorilla in 2016.
“I hope that nothing bad happens to the lion because of what this woman did,” a zoo visitor told CBS.
According to the Washington Post, New York police are investigating the matter.
If you really care about animals—and your own life—always follow the zoo rules and keep a safe distance.
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