A peahen wandered into a lion's enclosure at the zoo. And then the predictable happened

WAIKIKI (HawaiiNewsNow) - On Saturday, photographer Rico Leffanta went to snap some shots of the surf in Waikiki.

Once he realized the waves were a dud, he decided to check out what he could shoot at the Honolulu Zoo.

And that's when things got interesting.

The zoo had just opened when he walked up to the lion exhibit — and saw a lioness having an unscheduled brunch.

The big cat had somehow snagged one of the many peahens that live on the grounds, and was giving zoo goers a real life lesson in the food chain.

Leffanta documented what happened with his camera: The lionness snagging the peahen and then proceeding to play with its meal for about an hour.

He said not many other zoo visitors witnessed it because it was early in the day.

"A couple people walked up and I said you may not want you children to see this," Leffanta said.

The Honolulu Zoo says that when things like this happen they often try to "gate" and remove the cat from the situation.

But in this case it was too late; the lion consumed the peahen.

Dozens of peacocks roam the zoo's grounds freely, and aren't maintained or fed by the zoo.

They're believed to be direct descendants of Princess Kaiulani's peacocks; she was known for her admiration of the birds and is sometimes referred to as the "peacock princess."

While the birds typically don't cause any trouble, the zoo has had to intermittently step in.

In 2009, the zoo euthanized seven peacocks by chemical injection or through carbon dioxide inhalation. Officials said the birds were either injured or had become too aggressive with visitors and animals in the zoo's collection.

The aggression of the peacocks has even been witnessed by some TripAdvisor users. With one review of the zoo simply saying "beware of peacocks".

That created some problems of its own.

About a decade ago, a Makaha woman accused of animal cruelty used the zoo's peacock euthanizations as part of her defense.

Public opinion was split at the time. On one side were those who agreed that the peacocks were a pest, on the other side were people who called for justice in the name of animal rights. The woman was found not guilty.

Photo Source: TripAdvisor
Photo Source: TripAdvisor

Leffanta, who has shot photos professionally at other zoos, says it's not the first time he's witnessed something like what happened Saturday.

He's even seen enclosed large cats capture wild snakes in places such as Southern Arizona's Desert Museum.

"I've gone to zoos around the world and there's nothing anyone can do about wildlife entering the enclosure," he said.

Meanwhile, zoo staff said there have been other incidents of big cats at the zoo eating birds that wander into their enclosures, including ducks and pigeons.

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