"The lion's den" is an expression to connote "a dangerous situation" for a reason. Because it's based in truth. When a woman recently hopped the fence at the lion enclosure at the Bronx Zoo and found herself face-to-face with an adult male lion, she had entered the lion's den all right ∏ both literally and figuratively.
A recent video went viral showing a woman climbing over a fence at the zoo to get closer to the lion. In the video, you can hear a man repeatedly say, "You're not supposed to do that," as she casually climbs into the enclosure. "I want to get closer to him," she says.
She navigates through brush to come up right along the edge of a sort of moat area that prevents the lion from getting any closer. And then they begin their staring contest. The lion really seems to be looking around him like, "Is this really happening?" while another lion looks on from the background.
To say this woman put herself in grave danger would be an understatement. She begins waving to the lion and dancing. Eventually, more off-screen voices can be heard saying things like, "It's probably not safe?" and "Do you know her? Can you tell her to get back?"
Remarkably, the woman was uninjured and even seemed unafraid when the lion took several steps toward her. Several videos of this shocking moment were taken, one by Hernán Reynoso, who told WNBC TV that he thought it was part of the exhibit at first.
"But when I see," Hernán said, "she just was there, dancing, saying, 'Hi,' to the lion and everything and that was crazy." He added that, after a little while, the lion became agitated by her presence and roared. That's when he grabbed his family and left the exhibit.
The Bronx Zoo absolutely condemned this woman's actions. In a statement, the zoo said, "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."
The zoo filed a complaint with the police department for criminal trespass, but no arrests have been made yet, according to CNN. Needless to say, she's now notorious for setting a terrible example of zoo visitor behavior.
"It's not a good example, especially for the kids," Hernán said. Yeah, no kidding. I don't know what's up these days, but incidents of people doing blatantly stupid things like this seem to be on the rise.
Not only does it pose a threat to the safety of the human, but it also puts the animal as risk. Singer/songwriter Ari Lennox took to Twitter to express her thoughts about what we're doing to animals we confine to zoos.
"I think we need to abolish zoos," she wrote. "That stupid lady sealed the deal for me. Putting that sweet gentle lion in danger like that. I'm tired of the abuse. I think if we want to see these precious animals we need to travel to their natural habitats."
Incidents like this, where someone chooses to violate the rules and put themselves and others in danger, are thankfully rare. But they still point to a stunning lack of judgment and concern for others around them. The question of whether zoos should exist is a complicated one. The question of whether or not someone should climb into a lion's den is not.