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Lions are no kings of the road

OKLAHOMA CITY - Lions may be king of the jungle, but two of them cowered in fear when they found themselves in the middle of a busy highway. The pair fell out of a trailer during rush hour Tuesday on Interstate 40. A witness said the trailer door opened and the lions "just rolled out."

"We don't know how it came open," said owner Jerry Garrett, a pet shop proprietor in Purcell who was pulling the trailer. "After they landed, they just sat there and cowered. They were scared."

Neither of the lions, Sampson and Casey, was injured.

Animal control officers used a tranquilizer gun to sedate them before using nooses to load them back into the trailer. "They were pretty docile. We just took precautions," said Lt. Stewart Meyer, Highway Patrol spokesman.

Garrett said the animals were used for shows, promotions and education.

His store was fined $1,000 in June after Sampson, then a 7-month-old cub, knocked its cage open and bit a 6-year-old girl. The U.S. Department of Agriculture alleged the store was negligent in handling and housing the lions there.

Garrett said he was moving the lions from the store to a 68-acre ranch he owns in Purcell, where they are to be put on display behind 12-foot fences.