Huge lion behind ‘flimsy fence’ runs towards terrified tourist during dog walk

A woman was left terrified after getting close to a lion roaming the streets while out walking her dog.

Patricia Lapetite was on holiday in Ontario, Canada thought she saw another big dog while on her walk, only to realise she was just metres away from a big cat.

The lion was on the other side of a flimsy wired fence and animal welfare advocates are claiming this shows there are insufficient laws on exotic animals in the area.

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The Quebec resident told CTV News Toronto: “I saw the lion in a yard about 30 feet from the road.”

At first, her dog started barking at the other animal as the they noticed each other and started walking parallel. Lapetite thought nothing of the encounter at first.

Before long, the owner learning that she had stumbled upon a zoo called Jungle Cat World, an informal roadside zoo near Toronto.

These roadside zoos are common to the area, but cause much controversy amongst animal rights activists.

Having been open since 1983, there are several lions, jaguars, tigers, leopards and hyenas that live in the park.

It also comes with a cabin where visitors can spend the night and “fall asleep to the roar of the lions and howling of the wolves” and enjoy a breakfast in the morning.

One of their lions lives in an enclosure that backs onto a street, where it is visible for onlookers. Located just across the road from a restaurant and petrol station, there is not much separated local residents from the exotic animals apart from a fence.

Lapetite posted the video of her close encounter with a lion on her TikTok and many commenters have started a lively debate asking whether it is ethical to have a neighbourhood so close to the scene.

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One commenter said: “That lion could probably clear then fence no problem.” Another added: “That lion is probably used to humans.”

With over 5,000 likes on TikTok and the video being seen by thousands on Facebook, users are questioning the safety of roadside zoos.

““Is that even legal? I never knew (you) could possess any type of exotic animal like that … with all the houses around it,” one person commented on Facebook. “I know I wouldn’t wanna be living in that area.”

“Not sure, but I think the fence is not really useful. It's still a feline that jumps very well” said another.

Earlier this week a member of Animal Welfare Services visited the zoo for an inspection following the video and told CTV News Toronto that there was “no threat to public safety” in the zoo.

However, campaign manager of World Animal Protection, Michèle Hamers said this was “completely inadequate” and that “Lions can jump as high as 12 feet, which is why professional zoo standards recommend keeping lions behind fences at least 15 feet high.”

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