Horror at zoo as lions kill escaped baby bearcat

Katy Holland

Visitors to Chessington World of Adventures got a nasty shock when they witnessed a terrified bearcat cub being ripped apart by a pair of lions.

The drama unfolded after two of the cuddly mammals (pictured) - also known as binturongs - climbed a tree and dropped from overhanging branches, landing in the neighbouring lion enclosure.

One of the cubs was immediately set upon by the lions, who killed it in an instant it in front of shocked spectators.

The second cub was heard shrieking as it hurried into the undergrowth and out of view. It died of fright shortly afterwards.

Jason Harcombe, who had taken his two-year-old son to the zoo, told The Sun newspaper: 'The poor animal didn't stand a chance. The lions jumped on it straight away and killed it.

'The lioness brought the body up to the glass and then she and her mate just ripped it apart in front of us.'

Mr Harcombe said that about 20 visitors witnessed the killing.

'It was a really distressing thing to see,' he said.

A zoo spokesman said: 'Before it was discovered the young binturong had escaped, they had ventured into the Asiatic lions' enclosure.

'This is an unfortunate incident which Chessington is taking very seriously. Our zoo team, particularly the keepers concerned, are very distressed by the events.

'We are very sorry for any visitors who may have been upset by witnessing the incident.'

The zoo was home to a single family of bearcats consisting of two adults and three cubs. The parents and remaining single cub have now been moved to a different area of the zoo. An investigation into the incident is being carried out.