Shocking video posted to Instagram over the weekend shows an unidentified woman inside the lion enclosure fence, waving at the giant cat.
As the male lion stands still, staring at her, she dances, seemingly carefree, with only a small moat separating her from the animal.
According to a statement from the zoo, the woman climbed over a visitor safety barrier into the African lion exhibit on Saturday.
The woman was later escorted out of the park unscathed, but police are now searching for her, saying she may face criminal trespassing charges.
The Bronx Zoo released the following statement in response to the incident:
“This action was a serious violation and unlawful trespass that could have resulted in serious injury or death. Barriers and rules are in place to keep both visitors, staff and animals safe. We have a zero tolerance policy on trespass and violation of barriers.”
Visitors to the Bronx Zoo on Tuesday asked why the woman would do such a thing, worried about her safety and the safety of the animals.
“I think it’s absolutely crazy. I don’t know why anyone would think to climb over there,” one visitor said.
“I’m sorry to hear it. That’s somebody who’s very troubled,” one woman said.
“I hope that nothing bad happens to the lion because of what this woman did,” another woman said.
John Rubbo hopes the decisions of one woman won’t ruin the experience for others.
“At this exhibit, there’s low walls, so you want to get close enough to see what’s going on, but you don’t want to have these high fences in front of all the exhibits. It takes the fun out of the zoo,” he said.
The zoo and the lion exhibit remain open.