Circus lion escapes and wanders streets of Ladispoli

Circus lion escaped onto streets before being recaptured

By Region Central Italy News

Yesterday, in the coastal town of Ladispoli, a circus lion escaped, reigniting the debate on the use of wild animals in entertainment.

The incident unfolded as the adult lion roamed the streets, creating a surreal scene that captured the attention of both residents and the global media. Mayor Alessandro Grando advised residents to stay indoors while a joint effort by the police and circus aimed to capture the animal. After several hours of tension, the lion was successfully sedated and recaptured.

Rony Vassallo, responsible for the animals at Rony Roller Circus, downplayed the danger posed by the lion, named Kimba. He said that in an unfamiliar environment, Kimba did not exhibit any aggressive behaviour toward people. Vassallo expressed concern not for the public’s safety but for the potential harm the lion might suffer due to fear or excessive enthusiasm.

Mayor Grando, in a Facebook post hours after the incident, reassured the public that the lion had been sedated and captured. He expressed gratitude to emergency services and volunteers who played a crucial role during the challenging hours.

“I hope that this episode can stir some consciences, and that we can finally put an end to the exploitation of animals in circuses,” the mayor added.

Why are lions allowed in the circus?

The escape prompted Mayor Grando to address the issue of circus animals in Ladispoli. He said he had not authorised the presence of a circus with lions in the town.

Rony Vassallo revealed that Kimba, born and raised in captivity alongside siblings Zeus, Ivan, and Maya, had been lightly sedated and suffered no ill effects. The handler and his family said they were “very shaken and very tense”.

The incident brought attention to the broader issue of using wild animals in circuses. Italy, unlike more than 20 European countries that have banned or heavily restricted this practice, is yet to implement such measures. A drafted law addressing this concern was reportedly delayed until 2024, according to the LAV campaign group. The organisation estimated that nearly 2,000 animals are currently held in circuses across Italy.

Animal rights groups, including OIPA, seized upon the Ladispoli incident to emphasise both the public security risks associated with circuses and the distress experienced by captive creatures. Despite criticism, circus handler Vassallo maintained that critics lacked an understanding of the reality of how animals are treated and monitored in circuses.

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