Lions Vs. Deer At Zoo: Photographer Tells Story Behind The Video

2:47 PM, Nov 10, 2009   |    comments
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  • (From YouTube video)
  • (From YouTube video)
  • (From YouTube video)
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  • Rob Ephraim's video: Lions vs. Deer at National Zoo
  • SILVER SPRING, Md. (WUSA) -- Rob Ephraim was holding a small point-and-shoot digital camera as he walked around the National Zoo in Washington with his girlfriend on Sunday.

    While the pair were passing through the lion exhibit, Ephraim said there were shouts and a splash as something fell off a 13-foot high concrete wall above the moat surrounding the enclosure where two female lions were lounging in the sun.

    "Everybody is freaking out thinking that a kid has just fallen into the lion exhibit and all of a sudden, out pops a little deer head," Ephraim recalled.

    Relieved to see a deer rather than a child swimming in the moat below, attention went immediately to the lions.

    "They reacted right away," Ephraim said.  And the 25-year-old was prepared with the camera.

    The resulting video, posted to YouTube, has been seen around the world.

    First, the lions shadow the deer as it swims to one end of the moat.  One lion jumps in to get the deer, but breaks off the attack.

    Later, the lions corner the deer in a stairwell as concerned zookeepers look out a window safely behind steel doors.

    "Everybody pretty much thought the deer was done but maybe five minutes went by and you all of a sudden heard some yelps and the deer literally came flying out," Ephraim said.  The lions again chased the deer across their yard as it jumped back in the water.

    "They were like big house cats toying with a bird that flew in the house," Ephraim said.

    Shortly thereafter, police showed up and cleared the area.

    Zoo officials say the lion keepers were then able to lure the cats to their secure indoor enclosure. 

    With the yard safe, staffers tried to rescue the deer.

    It was so badly injured, a veterinarian was forced to euthanize it.

    The deer most likely entered the zoo property from the adjacent Rock Creek Park and took a wrong turn in a panic, according to zoo officials.

    Ephraim said the deer "appeared out of nowhere" and jumped through a crowd of people as it leapt over the concrete barrier blindly down to the moat.

    "This is what they do," Ephraim said about the lions. "Seeing them in a caged enclosure is not that interesting. Seeing them actually go after something in the wild and use their instincts is very interesting. I'd pay to go to Africa to see this!"

    Written by Scott Broom
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