Woman Ejected from Zoo for Feeding Lions

Permanently banned after offering cookies, serenading

Jun 25, 2014
Outside Magazine
feeding lions animal preserve zoo memphis zoo cookie outdoors outside outside online outside magazine

A terrible, no-good, very bad idea.    MLorenaJohnson/ThinkStock

Thanks to vigilant zoo patrons, one Memphis woman will never know what happens if you give a lion a cookie. 

Visitors to the Memphis Zoo yesterday called a hotline to alert security that a woman had hurdled over the barricade into the lions' enclosure with intentions of feeding cookies to the big cats. One witness reported hearing the woman singing a song to the lions about how much she missed them. 

"It was bizarre," witness Michelle Beasley told WMC Action News. "I've never seen someone singing to a lion. It was really loud."

The woman was escorted from the zoo one week previous for displaying similar cookie-related behavior.

"Last week she was noticed by our security staff throwing objects into the lion exhibit," said zoo spokeswoman Abbey Dane. 

The woman's second offense resulted in her permanent exclusion from the zoo, as her behavior endangered both the lions and herself. After surmounting the protective barricade surrounding the enclosure, the only thing separating woman from beast was a wire. It's doubtful that the lions, should they have been hungry, would have chosen to eat the cookies over other available foodstuffs. 

Her picture is now on display for security personnel.

Memphis Zoo, rated the fourth-best zoo in America this year by USA Today readers and its travel site 10Best.com, is home to four African lions—three female, one male. The zoo used its time in the limelight to call attention to the dangers of dismissing zoo policy by inventively promoting local bakeries on its Facebook page, accompanied by the hashtag #cookiesareforpeople.

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