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Two 100 Lbs. Lion Cubs Escape From Zoo, Play With Dog

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BEMIDJI, Minn. – Two 6-month-old lion cubs were brought back to Paul Bunyan Animal Land in Bemidji Thursday afternoon after they escaped from their pen and were found reportedly wrestling with a dog in a yard in southern Beltrami County Thursday around 10:30 a.m.

The Beltrami County Sheriff’s Communications Center received the report of the cubs in a yard on Highway 2 East in Beltrami County.

“The complaint came in that they were playing with a dog that they had come across. Not harming the dog but playing with the dog,” Chief Deputy Michael Bakke said.

Jessica Dahl saw the lions out her front window after she heard her dog barking.

“I looked out and he was lunging at something. I looked out the front door and then I saw the lions,” Dahl explained.

KSAX-TV received photos of the lion cubs in the yard from homeowners, Troy and Becky Ament. The attached e-mail read, “Here are the pictures that my wife took of the lions in our yard. Hardly cubs, we are looking to have the story revised.”

“I think it’s important to understand that these are African Lions, about 100 pounds each. They’re not full-grown. They’re adolescents,” Bakke said.

A second e-mail KSAX received from the Aments discussed a similar incident when a kangaroo living at Animal Land got loose.

“Since I sent this e-mail, the Beltrami Sheriff’s said they are working with the DNR to do an investigation as this is the second time in 8 months. The last animal was a kangaroo,” the Aments said.

“They (authorities) don’t want it to be a regular occurrence to be chasing/hunting lions/tigers in the woods. And we would like to feel comfortable having a camp fire on the weekends.”

Deputies responding to the area, along with the owners of Paul Bunyan Animal Land were able to locate the cubs and return them to their home.

The Beltrami County Sheriff’s Office reported Animal Land employees were spring cleaning when the 6-month-old cubs escaped.

The lion cubs are hand fed and respond to their names, Marjan and Aslan. They had been playing in their temporary pen when their combined weight managed to bump a gate open.

“It was quite amusing in some ways, and we just wanted to make sure the public safety aspect of it was addressed and it was,” Bakke said.

The cubs followed the deputies and owners back to their regular pen.

No one was injured in the incident.

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