Last Friday, German authorities warned the public to stay indoors after flooding affected the Eifel Zoo in Lünebach. They told local residents that several animals, including at least two lions, two tigers, a jaguar and a bear had escaped their enclosures.
Not the most reassuring thing to hear if you live in the area. The reports from the zoo prompted a widespread search by the police, mild panic and a bit of fun online.
It was thought that a nearby river burst its banks causing flooding to the enclosures that corroded the earth in the animals' pens, allowing them to escape under fences.
A few hours later, the zoo reported that all the animals were located and residents could go outside again, without fear of being greeted by several large predatory big cats.
Sadly, during the escape, authorities were forced to shoot the escaped bear as it fled the grounds and headed for the hills, AP reports. However, after a large search of the area using drones, all the lions, tigers, and jaguars were found within their enclosures, the Independent reports.
It turns out that none of the cats actually escaped at all, but remained patiently in their cages, like regular-sized domestic cats waiting at an open door.
Local mayor Andreas Kruppert confirmed at a news conference that the zoo had lost track of the big cats and feared they had got loose, but later discovered that they hadn't even made a token effort to escape, or at least explore the zoo grounds.
"We are very happy that the scenario we had initially feared didn't turn out to be the case," he told the conference, the BBC reports. They found the animals exactly where they'd left them, using the drones.
Despite damage to several enclosures at the zoo offering multiple escape routes, the cats sadly didn't seize their chance to re-enact Madagascar. Although this isn't the first time big cats have escaped this zoo, so perhaps third time lucky?