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Australian zoo condemned for shooting lion

by Staff Writers
Sydney (AFP) March 19, 2009
An Australian zoo that shot dead an escaped lioness was at the receiving end of a barrage of hate mail and abuse Thursday.

"It's predominantly emails, but we've had people ring up and swear at the staff," said Mogo Zoo's John Appleby.

"Basically a large majority are saying why don't you use a tranquiliser gun? We've had people say silly things like 'Next time don't shoot the animal, shoot yourself'," he told Australian Associated Press.

The nine-year-old African big cat was shot dead by a marksman on Tuesday morning as she approached a public area, after escaping her enclosure at the zoo south of Sydney.

Park owner Sally Padey defended her order to shoot the lioness, which she had bottle-raised from birth, saying she was forced to take a snap decision in the interest of public safety.

"When you have the blink of an eye to make that decision, how do you?" an emotional Padey told commercial television.

"It was a situation that could have been far, far more devastating than it already is. For the very first time in my life I made a decision with my head, not my heart and I will live with that."

Appleby said tranquiliser darts could make lions quite aggressive, and took up to ten minutes to act.

"If we'd put a tranquiliser dart in her bum... and then if she went into that public area and took 10 minutes to get put down there is a huge risk."

"There is a lot of emotion and Sally is obviously quite distraught about a tough decision she had to make," he added.

Dozens of elderly visitors to the zoo were forced to hide inside buildings Tuesday morning as the lioness, named Jamelia, roamed from her habitat after an unspecified "keeper error."

Born at the zoo, the tawny African lioness was buried Wednesday on the 26 hectare (65 acre) grounds.

Mogo Zoo was established in 1991, and is home to more than 200 animals of 39 endangered and exotic species including, white lions and Bengal tigers.

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Feathers fly over new dinosaur find
Paris (AFP) March 18, 2009
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