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Memphis Zoo puts lifetime ban on woman who tried to cuddle with the lions

This beautiful specimen is Akeelah, one of the four lions at the Memphis Zoo who witnessed the unnamed lady's advances.
This beautiful specimen is Akeelah, one of the four lions at the Memphis Zoo who witnessed the unnamed lady's advances.
Photo Courtesy, Memphis Zoo

The Memphis Zoo is one of the most renowned zoos in the country. The zoo has spent more than $90 million in the last twenty years to create animal enclosures designed to mimic an animal's natural habitat. It has been repeatedly recognized as one of the top zoos in the nation (yeah, even better than San Diego). You can imagine that kind of awesome animal-loving environment draws not only the crowds, but the crazies as well.

On Monday, the Memphis Zoo was forced to ban a woman after she proved to be too exuberant an animal lover. At around 11 in the morning, an unnamed woman attempted to scale the barrier that separates the zoo's renowned big cat exhibit, Cat Country, from the zoo's daily visitors. Once over the railing, the woman reportedly sang to the animals and offered them cookies. You know, because music soothes the savage beast (and because cookies are awesome).

More than likely, each and every person reading this knows someone who would jump into an animal enclosure without hesitation for only the merest chance of some (purely appropriate) lion-on-human cuddling. After all, they're basically just big house cats. Really, really big house cats. Who will maul you. And then eat what's left. Of course, whether or not you'd actually end up on the business end of some razor sharp fangs is up for debate (just ask my wife), but that's simply because most people wouldn't be foolish enough to put a lion's killer instinct to the test.

Apparently, worrying you'll get your throat ripped out by a beast from the paleolithic era just means that you don't love animals enough, because one woman was willing to sacrifice life and limb just to get within arm's reach of a lion. According to one zoo patron, the woman, who was dressed in brown scrubs, "started singing loudly about how much she missed the lions."

The patron described the scene as, "bizarre," adding, "I've never seen someone singing to a lion." The witness' poor, apparently Disney-free childhood aside, you could probably imagine that "bizarre" is just about the right adjective to describe the scene. It became especially apt after the woman attempted to feed the lions cookies while in the midst of her serenade.

A spokesperson for the Memphis Zoo, Laura Doty, explained that even the lions recognized inappropriate behavior. "Our lions know their keepers," Doty explained in an email. "They knew this woman was someone new, someone different. They knew she wasn't supposed to be in that area, so they backed up, away from her."

Security was on the scene almost instantly to subdue the woman. While she was understandably upset at having to leave the lions she loves so much, the woman did not put up a fight as she was escorted from the zoo. She isn't facing any criminal charges at the moment, though, she has earned a lifetime ban for her shenanigans, and, according to Doty, "if she tries to enter again, she could be brought up on Criminal Trespassing charges."

More than anything, the good folks at the Memphis Zoo have repeatedly explained to the public that what this woman attempted is very ill-advised. Some might even call it extremely dangerous (and not just for the people, but the lions themselves). So, the next time you're in a zoo, you can sing to the animals (I mean, I don't see why you couldn't), but you'd best stay on your side of the fence when you do.

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