A circus lion named Kimba escaped and was spotted wandering through densely populated streets for several hours in a suburb of Rome on Saturday before authorities managed to sedate and capture it.
Circus lion prowls Italian town sending locals scrambling
Alessandro Grando, the mayor of Ladispoli, a seaside town on the outskirts of Rome, confirmed on Facebook at around 10:30 p.m. that night that the lion had been successfully apprehended, following a lengthy ordeal since the initial alarm was raised.
The multi-agency operation to safely return the lion to captivity involved Italy’s state police, local police, the Carabinieri military police force, and dedicated volunteers.
In video footage captured from a police helicopter utilizing an infrared camera, Kimba was seen leisurely strolling.
Videos shared on social media revealed the lion casually walking along a residential street, seemingly unfazed by the surrounding cars and houses.
Grando referred to the lion’s escape and subsequent capture as “hours of great learning.”
Circus lion’s handler claims Simba is not dangerous
Rony Vassallo, the animal handler at the Rony Roller Circus, claimed that Kimba wasn’t a threat to the pubic.
“He met with people in an environment he wasn’t used to … and nothing happened; he didn’t even for a second have the instinct to attack a person,” Vassallo remarked.
He was skeptical about how Kimba escaped from the circus in the first place without outside influence.
“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,” he noted.
Italian mayor says circus lion incident proves that animals shouldn’t be exploited
Grando said the incident is a solid example of why circuses like Rony Roller should not be allowed to utilize animals in their shows.
“I hope this episode can raise some conscience and that we can finally put an end to animal exploitation in circuses,” he emphasized.
Several local residents agreed with the mayor’s sentiment. “I am sorry, because it is in prison,” said local resident Giuseppe Altavilla. “It should be in its environment, the savanna.”
Although employing live animals in circuses remains legal in Italy, more than 20 European countries have implemented bans on this practice.
A law prohibiting live animals in circuses has been passed by the lower house of Italy’s parliament, but it has yet to be fully enacted.
In a Facebook post on Monday, Grando announced his intention to seek legal advice regarding the revocation of permits issued to the “Rony Roller” circus.
The traveling circus was scheduled to be present in Ladispoli from November 9th to 19th.