Panic as circus lion roams Italian seaside town

World Sunday 12/November/2023 14:22 PM
By: DW
Panic as circus lion roams Italian seaside town

A major police operation was sparked in an Italian coastal town as an escaped circus lion strutted through the streets, enjoying its new-found freedom.

The mayor of Ladispoli, some 20 kilometers (about 12.5 miles) northwest of Rome, told residents to stay indoors until the feline was captured and later took a swipe at the circus owners. 

Ladispoli Mayor Alessandro Grando had urged the town's population to be "extremely careful."

In several videos posted online, the big cat could be seen roaming the streets and prowling along the pavements in a supremely calm manner.

"Blessed Mary! Mamma mia!" one woman could be heard exclaiming in a clip.

Most residents stayed indoors as a precaution, while some were trapped temporarily in their cars.

Several hours passed before a team that tracked the animal could tranquilize and recapture it among a bank of reeds just outside the town.

The trackers gave the lion an anesthetic injection, and it fell asleep after a few minutes before being taken back to the circus.

The mayor thanked emergency services and volunteers who helped during "these hours of great concern."

"I hope that this episode can stir some consciences, and that we can finally put an end to the exploitation of animals in circuses," Grando said.

Anticipating residents' complaints when the alert was initially raised, the mayor said he had not authorized the presence of a circus with lions in the town, but added that he had no powers to ban it.