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Ipswich family’s trip to Colchester Zoo turned into horror show as escaped vulture was attacked by lions

PUBLISHED: 17:05 04 February 2018 | UPDATED: 12:55 05 February 2018

One of the lions at Colchester Zoo. Picture: ELLIOTT FROST/CITIZENSIDE.COM

One of the lions at Colchester Zoo. Picture: ELLIOTT FROST/CITIZENSIDE.COM

(c) copyright

A trip to the zoo turned into a oddly traumatic ordeal today, after an Ipswich family witnessed lions attacking an escaped vulture to a chorus of screams from spectators.

The hole in the net above the lion enclosure. Picture: CONTRIBUTEDThe hole in the net above the lion enclosure. Picture: CONTRIBUTED

They had gone to Colchester Zoo today expecting a fun day out at the tourist attraction.

The shocked visitors said: “It’s a bit unbelievable, really. We were watching the falcon display and the trainer said, we’re going to have to try something different with the vulture today because the winds are blowing in a different direction.

“Obviously, the vulture didn’t do what they hoped it would do because it just carried on flying off and you could hear the trainer saying, ‘Where’s he going? Where’s he going?’

“I looked over and I could see that he had landed on the netting above the lion enclosure and got his feet caught and couldn’t seem to fly away.

“The next thing, a female lion just jumps up and grabs it and just rips it through the net. I could see it in her mouth.”

They said afterwards a hole in the netting where the bird of prey had been pulled through could clearly be seen.

UPDATE: Colchester Zoo gives ‘factually accurate’ account of vulture’s death

Another visitor said: “It was quite frightening because I couldn’t really see what was going on from where I was stood and I just heard all these screams, like really loud screaming.

“It’s a bit of a worrying sound to hear in a zoo and quite traumatic.

“I was trying to film the bird show so you can see that things don’t go to plan and then just hear all the screaming.”

The actions of the zookeepers, who cleared the area of visitors while the incident was handled, have been praised by those who were there.

An eye-witness said: “To be fair, they did really well.

“They were all straight over there when the screaming started and cleared out the area.

“Seemed like they were well trained in what to do if something like that should happen.

“I don’t think it was really their fault, just one of those things.

“But bit of a scary day out. I mean, I know it’s natural in the wild and all that, but I didn’t expect so much action at Colchester Zoo.”

The zoo was contacted, but no-one was available for comment.

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