Lions Sedated After Escaping Containers at Major Airport

One of the fully grown animals was discovered perched on top of its travel crate

Dec 13 2021, 7:58am

Is someone playing Jumanji in the Lion City? Last week a roving gang of otters attacked a man on a walk, and now two fully grown lions have caused a ruckus while in transit at an airport in Singapore—breaking free from their containers on Sunday. One lion was even found chilling on top of its travel crate. 

It is believed that the big cats were part of a travelling pride of seven being transported to an “overseas facility.” According to state newspaper The Straits Times, “a standoff ensued” at Changi Airport, resulting in the animals being sedated using a tranquilliser gun. They are now recovering from the effects of the sedation and are under the care of the Singapore Zoo.

Singapore has a long and bizarre history of exotic animals escaping their enclosures, including a black panther in 1973, a hippo in 1974, a jaguar in 2005 and an African wild dog in 2014. 

The incident played out in transit at Singapore's Changi Airport. Photo: Roslan RAHMAN / AFP

VICE World News reached out to the Mandai Wildlife Group, which manages Singapore Zoo and was asked by Singapore Airlines (SIA) to assist in ensuring the lions’ welfare. In an emailed statementa representative said that sedation “was required” in order for vets to “safely transport the large carnivores” to their facility in the north of the city-state, and that “all lions have recovered well from anaesthesia.”

“Our veterinary and quarantine teams are closely monitoring the animals, making sure they are comfortable,” it added.


VICE World News also reached out to Singapore Airlines (SIA), asking who was behind the shipment of the lions, when they will resume their journey, as well as the nature of the trip. A spokesperson only reiterated previous responses made on Sunday that the animals “remained secured by the safety netting that was around the container during the entire time”—but did not offer further details on the context of their trip.

SIA, the country’s national carrier, regarded as one of the world’s best airlines, was handling the transportation of the lions and told state media that the incident was now under investigation. Airline representatives also confirmed that they had reached out to “veterinary and carnivore care teams” at the zoo to assist with the problem. 

“While the incident is being investigated, the immediate priority is the lions’ well-being,” a spokesperson for SIA said. The company added that there was “no disruption” to the airline’s operations, but it did not address where the big cats had come from and where they were headed. 

A major transit point for animals from neighbouring Indonesia and Malaysia, Singapore is a key node in Southeast Asia’s illegal wildlife trade. As recently as 2010, it was named by the global wildlife trade monitoring network TRAFFIC as being one of the world’s top ten illegal smuggling hubs

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Update: This article has been updated to include the status of the lions after they were sedated and transported.


Singapore, wildlife trafficking, worldnews

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