Woman Escapes Death After Jumping Inside Lion Enclosure At Bronx Zoo

Male African lion Luke (L) touches heads with one of the zoo's two female lions at the Great Cats exhibit in the Smithsonian National Zoological Park
Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images

A woman avoided a horrible tragedy by escaping unscathed from a close encounter with a lion at the Bronx Zoo in New York City.

The zoo was forced to file a complaint for criminal trespassing after a woman climbed inside its lion enclosure last Saturday. As reported by CNN, the woman put herself in major danger when she climbed over the visitor safety barrier at the African lion exhibit and proceeded to dance and wave her hands at a lion standing extremely close to her.

In a series of pictures and clips taken by a bystander at the exhibit, the woman appears relaxed and unconcerned as she moves her hands in an almost taunting manner, while the huge male stares at her and slowly walks in her direction. The woman wore a dark gray T-shirt and black leggings.

In the videos, which were posted to social media, both adults and children can be heard talking in the background, most likely shocked at what they were witnessing.

The man who captured the encounter, Hernán Reynoso, told NBC News 4 that he was visiting the zoo with his wife and son when they suddenly realized what was going on. He claimed that, initially, he thought the whole thing was part of the exhibit.

“But when I see… she just was there, dancing, saying, ‘Hi,’ to the lion and everything and that was crazy,” he explained.

Reynoso added that, at one point, the male lion started to become “agitated” and roared at the woman, which was when he decided to leave with his family.

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A zoo spokesperson said that “this action was a serious violation and unlawful trespass that could have resulted in serious injury or death.”

“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,” they added.

However, New York Police Department Detective Sophia Mason told CNN that no one at the zoo called 911, and that no arrests had been made. In fact, the NYPD was only made aware of the incident three days later. It is still unclear how the woman managed to climb inside, how long she was there for, or even how she was retrieved from the enclosure. Neither the animal nor the woman were injured.

A sadder outcome took place at a zoo in Germany this summer, when a mother lioness ate two of her cubs just days after giving birth.