Escaped lion in Pasco County back safe in its enclosure at Survival Outreach Sanctuary

7:35 PM, Jan 3, 2014   |    comments
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Photo Gallery: Lion escapes from enclosure at Pasco County wildlife sanctuary

Video: Lion on the loose in Pasco animal sanctuary

Video: FWC press conference following lion escape from enclosure

  • Facebook screenshot of Savannah, an African lion that lives at Survival Outreach Sanctuary in Spring Hill.
  • Savannah the mountain lion who got loose from Survival Outreach Sanctuary in Spring Hill was caught shortly after 12:30 and taken back to her enclosure.


SPRING HILL, Florida - Deputies and wildlife officers in Pasco County were on the lookout for a very big kitty Friday morning.

A 7-year-old African lion, named Savannah, escaped from her enclosure within the Survival Outreach Sanctuary just south of County Line Road and east of US-41 near Spring Hill.

"Our entire process in this is trying to determine where the animal was, if it was posing a danger to anyone and to recapture the animal before anything happened to the animal or anyone else," said Officer Beryl Martin of Florida Fish and Wildlife.

Some area residents told 10 News they spent the morning locked inside before they got conformation the lion had been captured.

"I'm probably going back in the house until this thing is caught," said Robin Monzon who lives not far from where the lion escaped.

The lion was located shortly before 12:30 Friday afternoon and was shot by a tranquilizer dart which safely put the lioness to sleep.

"She really wanted back in her cage. She really didn't want to be free," said professional trapper Vernon Yates. "Everything worked out for the best. It is almost like you write a textbook on it."

Yates tells 10 News the female lion apparently dug out of her enclosure and was found nearby another enclosure for tigers.

FWC says the public was never in danger and the lion remained inside a secondary 10-foot high fence surrounding the property. 

Federal inspectors had previously written up the facility recommending safety enhancements.

The owner is now facing a criminal charge, cited for improper animal caging, a first degree misdemeanor. If convicted she could receive a $500 fine and up to 60 days in jail.

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