Zoo Placed on Lockdown After Hyenas Escape Enclosure

By Monica Garske
|  Sunday, Mar 10, 2013  |  Updated 2:00 PM PDT
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The San Diego Zoo was placed on lockdown Friday night after two striped hyenas escaped from their enclosure, zoo officials confirmed.

A source who wishes to remain anonymous told NBC 7 the incident happened around 5:30 p.m. The tipster believes the hyenas somehow jumped out of their enclosure.

The zoo’s public relations office confirmed the incident Saturday morning and told NBC 7 that two striped hyenas were able to get past one of the barriers inside their enclosure, temporarily escaping.

Workers at the zoo noticed the hyenas were not where they were supposed to be and, at that point, zookeepers came down to the enclosure.

Zoo officials say a lockdown for the zoo was immediately initiated following the escape as keepers worked to contain the animals. In an event like this, zoo officials say a lockdown is standard protocol.

The lockdown lasted approximately 30 minutes, according to zoo officials. Eventually, the two striped hyenas were darted with a sedative and taken to the veterinary care facility.

Zoo officials say the hyenas were never in contact with any humans and there was never any danger to zoo-goers. No injuries were reported.

The anonymous tipster told NBC 7 the zoo remained on lockdown for closer to an hour and half, rather than 30 minutes. The tipster also said a private party was happening on zoo grounds at the time of the incident.

However, zoo officials said the area where this happened was nowhere near the private party.

Officials did not release any further details about how, exactly, the hyenas were able to get over the barrier. It is unknown if the barrier in question is a wall, moat or fence, as the hyena enclosure includes all different types of barriers.

This escape comes just days after a 24-year-old woman was killed by a lion believed to have escaped from his cage at Project Survival’s Cat Haven sanctuary in Dunlap, Calif.

Intern Dianna Hanson died Wednesday after an adult male African lion attacked her, breaking her neck, according to a coroner’s report. Investigators believe she was cleaning the main enclosure at the time of the deadly lion attack.

San Diego Zoo officials say the fatal Fresno-area lion attack is a completely different than what happened at the zoo. Officials say they take the highest precautions at the San Diego Zoo and would never let anyone inside an enclosure alone with any animal.

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