In a suburban area of Rome, chaos ensued when a circus lion named Kimba managed to escape, wandering through densely populated streets for hours before authorities successfully sedated and captured the creature. Alessandro Grando, the mayor of Ladispoli, a seaside town on the outskirts of Rome, confirmed the capture in a Facebook post just before 10:30 p.m.
The collaborative efforts of Italy’s state police, local police, the Carabinieri military police force, and dedicated volunteers were crucial in safely returning Kimba to captivity. The operation, deemed “hours of great learning” by Mayor Grando, showcased the joint commitment to resolving the unusual situation.
A police helicopter equipped with an infrared camera captured footage of Kimba leisurely strolling through a grassy area. Unverified mobile phone videos circulating on social media depicted the lion calmly walking down a residential street, seemingly indifferent to the surroundings.
Rony Vassallo, an animal handler from the Rony Roller Circus, reassured the public that Kimba, an eight-year-old lion, posed no threat. Vassallo emphasized that despite the unfamiliar environment, Kimba displayed no aggression toward people.
Mayor Grando expressed his hope that this incident would serve as a catalyst for ending the practice of keeping animals in captivity for circuses. He urged for increased awareness and a reconsideration of the ethical implications of exploiting animals for entertainment.
“I hope this episode can raise some conscience, and that we can finally put an end to animal exploitation in circuses,” Grando remarked, highlighting the ongoing debate surrounding the use of animals in entertainment.
While the captivity of animals for circus performances remains legal in Italy, more than 20 European countries have banned this practice. Although Italian lawmakers have passed a bill in the lower house to prohibit live animals in circuses, its implementation is pending.
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This escapade recalls a similar incident in Germany four months earlier, where a chaotic hunt for an escaped lion unfolded. After extensive searches by hundreds of police officers using thermal imaging cameras and helicopters, authorities conceded that there was no lion. The initial panic was triggered by grainy mobile phone footage, which, upon closer examination, likely depicted a wild boar.