A female circus lion was shot dead by police in Suzhou, Anhui province last night after it escaped from its transport cage and was seen roaming near a service station where dozens of people were gathered.
Suzhou police said they had no choice but to shoot the animal because it could harm the people who were eating and filling up their cars at the Jiashan Service Zone of Ninglu Expressway.
A driver called in a report after the lioness ran out in front of his truck as he was headed towards the service station at 10:00 p.m. The animal was injured after getting hit.
“It was lucky that she was hit by a car”, a police officer was cited as saying in a Sina News report. “If she weren’t seen and had snuck into the neighboring villages or even into the service zone, it would be dreadful to imagine what would happen.”
Seven police cars were dispatched to the scene, where they saw the creature limping along the highway some 500 meters away from the service station. People were evacuated from the surrounding area and the roads blocked by the time the lioness came within 300 meters of the station.
Police fired shots at the lioness, and once it was down, fired 20 more to make sure it was dead, SCMP reports. They later said they had to kill the animal because they wouldn’t be able to obtain a tranquilizer gun in time and people’s lives were in danger.
The secretary of the Yongqiao Circus Association in Suzhou, known as China’s hometown of acrobatics, said the lioness likely came from one of the local circuses. The spokesperson said the animal was caged in a van, “but as she was in the rutting season, she was fierce enough to bite open the double-layered iron nets and escaped to the highway.”
[Images via Sina]