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Environment

Lion on the Lam (Briefly) in Spring Hill

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Florida WIldlife Commission

In 2013, llamas and bears and birds were in the Bay area headlines. Now, just a few days into 2014, we can add Savannah the lion to the list of animal newsmakers.

The 7-year-old African lion briefly escaped from her enclosure at the Survival Outreach Sanctuary in Spring Hill Friday morning.

Savannah apparently dug her way out of her pen before she was found a short time later inside a nearby enclosure, which was surrounded by a 10-foot high fence. As a result, officials said the public was never in danger.

"Our entire process in this is trying to determine where the animal was, if it was posing a danger to anyone and to recapture the animal before anything happened to the animal or anyone else," Officer Beryl Martin of Florida Fish and Wildlife told WTSP-TV.

"She really wanted back in her cage. She really didn't want to be free," added professional trapper Vernon Yates. "Everything worked out for the best. It is almost like you write a textbook on it."

Sanctuary owner Judy Watson has been charged with improper animal caging, a first degree misdemeanor that comes with a $500 fine and up to 60 days in jail if convicted.