Charges filed after lion escapes from Spring Hill wildlife sanctuary

Updated:

SPRING HILL, Fla. —

A lioness that dug out of an enclosure at a Tampa Bay-area wildlife sanctuary early Friday morning has been caught and tranquilized.

Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission spokesman Gary Morse says the 7-year-old lion, Savannah, was returned to an "inspected, secure cage" at the Survival Outreach Sanctuary.

FWC officers arrived said they got the call about 10 a.m. and located the animal resting comfortably within the facility’s perimeter fence a short time later, officials said.

FWC officers and a veteran wildlife expert tranquilized the lion and returned it to a secure enclosure without incident.

Morse said the lion had escaped from an inner enclosure at the Spring Hill sanctuary.

 “The animal remained within the Survival Outreach Sanctuary’s 10-foot-high perimeter fence and never posed an immediate risk to the public,” said Morse.

The lion's owner has been charged with a misdemeanor for conditions that led to an escape.